Korean Sociological Image #35: Ready for some Hot 6iX?


For all the misreadings of the title that undoubtedly brought many of you to this post(!), “Hot 6iX” (핫식스) is just a simple energy drink really, albeit a deliberate attempt by Lotte Chilsung (롯데칠성음료) to produce a Korean equivalent of Red Bull for the domestic market. And ultimately to belatedly tap into the global market too, currently worth 1.4 billion dollars and growing 20% every year despite the recession.

An avid drinker of “V” back when I lived in New Zealand, I think it’s about time. Much more interesting than the drink itself though, are what the 4 advertisements produced so far tell us about how quickly the Korean media is changing, and especially how men and women are presented therein. With apologies for giving the game away somewhat with the opening image, here they are:

Although my wife and I laughed at the joke in the first one too, I confess that I was already well into writing this post after only seeing the two featuring women. For they confirmed a strong and enduring division in the marketing of health, energy, and/or sports drinks whereby those aimed at men tend to promote the idea that the drink will give them extra energy for work, exercise, or even sex, but those at women that it will simply help them to lose weight. A phenomenon by no means confined only to Korea, you can imagine my surprise then, when I learned of the 6iX ad aimed at female drinkers also.

(Sources: left, right)

And although it sounds rather awkward, my delight too. For with the proviso that the objectification of men can be just as problematic as that of women, and its occurrence in the media in numbers comparable to that of women a bizarre and somewhat unlikely “solution” for the latter, I’d like to throw open for discussion the notion that any objections any of you may have – or imagine that others may have – to those first 2 advertisements are somewhat mollified by having an advertisement featuring a man also.  Or alternatively is that just me, and/or are the advertisements with women not all that objectionable in the first place?

Meanwhile, expect to see many more advertisements like them in coming months: the 4 above all have random numbers assigned to them, much like what were ultimately 30 or so in this “Confessions of 20-somethings” (스무살의 고백) advertising series of Maxwell House (맥스웰하우스) that started last year (see #2 here). And on a final note, it’s difficult to believe that advertisements objectifying men like this only really started in earnest last year, yes?

Update, July 2012: Alas, my prediction was completely wrong. There were no new commercials for over 2 years, and the new ones released this month don’t objectify either sex at all (although they do still target both men and women). See here for all the 2012 and 2010 ones.

(For more posts in the Korean Sociological Images series, see here)