Korean Photoshop Disaster #8: The 100% Korean Lady Burger

A photoshop disaster, or a deliberate satire of the way models are typically presented on women’s magazine covers?

Alas, given how difficult it is to find this particular version, then unfortunately probably the former. But with that face held fast between the “A” and the “D”, as if prepped for cosmetic surgery? That X-line? And especially that emaciated look of her skin? Then for her at least, Lotteria’s Hanwoo Lady Burger is a “must eat” indeed.

But much more interesting than the bad photoshopping though, or what the ad says about women’s body images in the media, is the explicit gendered marketing contained therein. After all, you can’t call something a “Lady Burger” – and not even allow men to buy it – without explaining what it is exactly that supposedly makes it only appropriate for women.

Yet there are no physiological reasons why men and women can’t and don’t enjoy the same foods and drinks, so branding is the only real reason many are still marketed to only one sex nevertheless. Woe betide the company that actually admits that though, and hence Lotteria’s public rationale for Lady Burgers below comes across as rather artificial.

As indeed, do Lotteria’s products themselves, and not for nothing have I completely avoided the chain for the last 5 years (source, above):

롯데리아, 女心잡는 ‘한우레이디버거’ 출시 Lotteria Launches the ‘Lady Burger’ to Catch Women’s Hearts

한우레이디버거는 100% 한우 패티에 국내산 쌀 떡이 첨가된 떡갈비 형태의 프리미엄 버거로, 여성들이 선호하는 파프리카, 토마토, 양상추 등의 야채로 뒷맛이 상큼하고 깔끔한다는게 회사측 설명이다. 특히 쌀떡의 쫄깃함과 한우의 고소함의 조화도 느낄수 있다고. 가격은 단품 4500원, 세트 6000원.

As the company explains, the Hanwoo Lady Burger is a premium burger made from 100% Korean beef patty with ricecake made from Korean rice added, giving the form of ddokgalbi [ribs with ricecake added].  To that is added what women prefer: paprika, tomato, and lettuce, making the vegetable aftertaste both fresh and clean, and in particular, the ricecake’s chewiness and the Korean beef’s sesame taste harmonize well. The price for one is 4500 won, and for a set 6000 won.

특히, 전국한우협회가 인정하는 100% 한우만을 사용, 매월 1회 DNA 판정 검사를 실시해 인증을 받고 있다.

In particular, only beef that has been approved as 100% Korean beef by the Hanwoo Association is used, and every month its DNA is examined in order to receive that certification.

롯데리아 관계자는 “‘한우레이디버거’는 철저한 고객 세분화 전략으로 여성의 입맛을 고려한 제품”이라며, “기존의 한우불고기와는 제품에서부터 차별화시켜, 여성을 위한 햄버거로 자리잡을 예정이다”라고 설명했다.

According to a Lotteria spokesperson, “after formulating a strategy based on the segmentalization of the market, the Hanwoo Lady Burger was considered a product appropriate for women’s tastes”, and that “this is a means to distinguish the product from existing barbecued Korean beef dishes, and we expect it to dominate the market for burgers aimed towards women”.

롯데리아는 출시기념으로 세트 구매 고객에게는 치즈스틱과 알뜰 디저트 쿠폰을 무료로 증정하는 행사를 11월30일까지 진행한다. 알뜰 디저트 쿠폰은 콜라, 콘샐러드, 포테이토 등 디저트 3종을 1000원에 구입 가능한 것으로, 해당쿠폰은 12월 말까지 사용 가능하다.

To commemorate the launching of this product, until the end of November customers that buy it will receive a free cheesestick and a “Thrifty Desert” coupon, allowing them to buy desserts of either cola, corn salad, or potato for the price of 1000 won. These coupons will be valid until the end of December (James: yes, those don’t sound like “desserts” to me either).

한편, 롯데리아 한우제품은 한우레이디버거와 한우불고기버거 등 총 2가지로, 일반 버거 대비 1.5배 사이즈인 한우 불고기 버거는 폭넓은 남성 선호층을 확보하고 있다.

This is the second Korean beef product sold by Lotteria, the first being the Hanwoo Bulgogi Burger. In order to make sure to appeal to men’s preferences, that is 1.5 times larger than normal burgers. (end)

And with translating that last, I suddenly remembered this segment about the financial rationale to gendered burger marketing from page 91 of Essentials of Contemporary Advertising, by William Arens and David Schaefer (2007 edition):

Sorry for the poor quality: it was difficult to fit into the scanner. By way of compensation then, I’ve managed to find the 2003 ad with model Cameron Richardson referred to:

See here, here, here, and here for more examples of Korean gendered marketing, and here for more posts in the Korean Photoshop Disasters series. Meanwhile, have any readers actually tried one of those Thickburgers of Hardees’? Only 1,410 calories!

Update 1: See here for a much better version of the original Lady Burger ad, taken of a poster in a Lotteria window.

Update 2: The Bobster also has an interesting post on the Lady Burger.


15 thoughts on “Korean Photoshop Disaster #8: The 100% Korean Lady Burger

  1. This made me also think of the “Hungry Man” TV dinners. The masculine imagery of food like that also implies that it’s big enough to satiate your appetite. I’m trying to figure out what the feminine imagery provokes. I’d love to see a connection between this and the Mr. Pizza “Love for Women” and “Made for Woman/Women” campaigns.


    1. Haven’t heard of the others, but I’m a bit confused by the “Love for Women” campaign: once I first noticed it then I checked it out, and as far as I remember it turned out to be a promotion just for one month in March either this year or last (March 8 is International Women’s Day), but for some reason it’s still included in all advertising and packaging and so on.


      1. The story I hear about Mr Pizza’s Love For Women is simply that when he’s in the house, the women don’t have to cook dinner this evening, and there’s not nearly so much cleaning up to do … that’s all the mystery there is about it, really. And I’m pretty sure I’ve seen the signs with this slogan for longer than just this year or last year, also.


      1. Oh gosh, you’re right! What was I thinking? Anyways the other thing I noticed was the subhead “여자라면” (if you are a woman). At first glance I also thought they were touting a ramen just for women at Lotteria, perhaps to complement the Lady Burger?

        Overall though as a woman I really don’t mind the pandering to women marketing. I actually enjoyed the perks of a woman only credit card, bonus points, gift cards. I guess I enjoy being a girl.


        1. Yeah, I’d agree that simply targeting one gender is pretty benign in itself. But then most of them do in practice create, rely on, and/or reinforce gendered norms: as I discuss in most of the links at the end of the post, sports and health-drink ads for instance, have the consistent message that men should exercise and be active to gain their desired body shapes, whereas for some reason women just need to sit there (and drink the advertised products). Add the fact that we see 500-1000 advertisements of one form or another each day too, then those become a pretty powerful socialization agent.

          The aims of fast food companies like Hardees and Lotteria aside though, I think the expectation that being a man means you should eat a lot of meat is going to be one the first to go over the next 20 years or so, as the environmental consequences of diverting so much grain to raising livestock become more acute (off the top of my head, it take 8 kilos of grain to produce 1 kilo of beef). Not that I’m a vegetarian by any means, but I am eating less and less red meat these days for that reason.

          A bit off-topic sorry, but it is another harmful effect of a gendered norm!^^


  2. Emaciated at the waist only. Looks like they enlarged her legs a bit to lengthen her lower half. Her knees look rather chunky. I’m starting to hate Photoshop. Even catalog retailers that sell mainly to middle-aged women like me distort the images of their already tall and lean models. I genuinely have no idea why. Seeing a pair of pants on a 5’10” model stretched to look like she’s 6’2″ does not make me want to buy those pants because I know I will not look remotely like the image nor do I want to. A retailer with a petite line used to publish two catalogs, one for regular sizes and one for petites. The petite catalog featured the same clothes but on women about 5’4″ tall. I loved seeing clothes on slender, attractive women with my proportions. Professional users of Photoshop should take a course in human aesthetics before being allowed to hit the edit button.


    1. I think it’s more her skin tone that makes her look emaciated, although of course the X-line waist doesn’t help.

      Did/do you notice the same unnecessary distorting of already tall and lean models with Korean catalogs? Never looked myself, although of course it wouldn’t surprise me.


    2. I never viewed Korean catalogs, only women’s mags on occasion, which did use lengthening and slenderizing. I first noticed crude Photoshopping of this sort while living in China, where it is common for women to have clothes made by a tailor in a local fabric market. The fashion catalogs featured young women whose stretched bodies reminded me of Silly Putty imprints of newspaper images pulled this way and that.


      1. Whether in a catalog, magazine, or webpage, the point is that Photoshoppers go way beyond smoothing out a few bumps and erasing a few blemishes to enlarging some body parts while shrinking others, creating images that look like they belong in a Romare Bearden exhibition.


    1. Thanks: I did notice that actually, but couldn’t figure out what the ads’ logic was exactly, or why they only had White guys in them. But whatever the reasons, they’re still incredibly lame:


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