Creative Korean Advertising #24: Will They? Won’t They?

Apologies for the slow posting folks: last week, I developed a “swellbow” from writing at my computer for too long, and it’s made sleeping a little difficult, let alone blogging. And I could mention the heatwave and my daughter’s kindergarten closing for 2 weeks too, but you get the idea!

Hence my original intention here just to pass on the deceptively innocent advertisement above, which had me burst out laughing at its crude sexual symbolism. But in hindsight it is also noteworthy both for having a woman initiating a relationship (possibly the first of its kind?), and for being part of a creative multimedia campaign featuring tantalizing hints of various episodes in various couples’ dating lives, which you’re then encouraged to find out more about by using the electronic tags on the bottles to download the “full stories” directly to your smart phone. Take a look for yourself:

Yes, my curiosity was especially piqued by the one involving kissing too, and it’s difficult to believe now that you only began seeing that in Korean advertisements just last year.  Regardless, fortunately the full stories are also available at the company website and now Youtube, and ironically that particular one ends up being more charming than anything else:

I hope you enjoyed them, and for anyone that missed the humor in the very first advertisement, then take a closer look at o:19 specifically. Lest you feel I’m reading too much into that however, then let me draw your attention to similar examples here, here, here, and here also!^^

(For more posts in the Creative Korean Advertising series, see here)

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Korean Sociological Image #16: Plagiarism in Advertising

Sean Connery Louis Vuitton( Source: Nevermind )

Korea has a deserved reputation for plagiarism, but it can surprisingly hard to provide definitive reasons for why this is the case. For example, had I been asked, I would have ventured that it was a combination of:

• the discouraging of creativity and the overwhelming use of rote-learning in Korean schools.

• the emphasis on results rather than processes, as evidenced by the university you attend being considered more important than what you learn there, or alternatively TOEIC scores being used by companies to select new recruits regardless of their actual spoken English ability, or if the job even requires it.

• the reality that university is widely regarded as a brief respite between studying for the entrance exam and corporate life, with much less of a workload than high school.

• a chronic lack of funds meaning that universities are extremely reluctant to expel students.

• and the Korean route to academic advancement, which far from having the egalitarian relationships that prevail in the West, can involve an almost slave-like dependency on professors by postgraduate students. The tasks they can be expected to perform for them can range from the mundane – like making their coffee – to doing the bulk of professors’ actual work, such as the marking of undergraduate essays, and usually for little or even no financial compensation. In such circumstances, it is no surprise to learn that Korean newspapers regularly feature cases of prominent academics being caught plagiarizing their students’ work.

Lotte Scotch BlueAnd for more on most of those points you can see this earlier post of mine on the Korean education system, and also this one by Seamus Walsh on the role of Confucianism in it. But they are all very much open to debate (and I encourage you to do so in the comments), and most importantly can probably be added to: the nature of the Korean music industry, for instance, is probably the real main factor behind this recent alleged case by Korean singer G-Dragon (G-드래곤). And so it proves that there is also a quirk specific to the advertising industry that encourages it there too.

Naturally, after two years of writing about Korean advertisements I’ve already discovered an example of plagiarism by a Korean advertising company, but that one pales by comparison with this on the right by Lotte Chilsung (롯데칠성음료) for its Scotch Blue Whiskey, which a spokesperson had the audacity to claim was only inspired by Louis Vuitton’s advertisement with Sean Connery above (with the tagline “There are journeys that turn into legends. Bahama Islands. 10:07”). It has since been withdrawn, but the Korea Times notes that “according to the Korea Advertising Board (KAB), companies accused of plagiarism are subject to penalty only when the original creator files a request for review.” Moreover, and herein lies the quirk, “in most cases, companies see the plagiarism of commercials as a win-win situation. They like their commercials to be copied and replayed by other companies, because it reminds consumers of their products,” said Kim Se-won of the KAB in 2006.

One wonders in this case though, as the single example available on the internet suggests that it must have been withdrawn rather quickly, perhaps indeed because of threatened legal action. But regardless, do you think the association of Scotch Blue with Louis Vuitton does detract from the latter? How about only in Korea specifically?

Update: With thanks to Florian for making it, here is the original Louis Vuitton advertisement resized and superimposed onto the Lotte Scotch Blue one:

Scotch Blue Louis Vuitton plagiarism

Like he says, at this level of similarity it’s more accurate to talk of copyright infringement rather than plagiarism!

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

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Korean Sociological Image #2: Son Dambi, The Perfect Woman

(Source: Paranzui)

Updated, October 2013

My previous commentary on this “Today’s Tea” commercial was woefully out of date, so it’s since been mercifully deleted(!). But many of the themes expressed remain just as potent in the Korean media today, including the encouraging of teenage girls and children to be dissatisfied with their bodies; the constant invention of new, often impossible, body shapes and “lines” for females of all ages to strive for; the over-reliance on celebrity endorsements, to the extent that the one chosen here, Son Dam-bi, is portrayed as somehow having a superior body and face to an equally-attractive, almost identical woman; and finally, albeit admittedly minor here, the reinforcement of gendered dieting roles by portraying the (single) male humorously—confirming that dieting is something only women need should be serious about.

Think I’m exaggerating? Just see for yourself:

Those problems aside, note that the “34-쏙/ssok-34” is a clever wordplay on women’s “vital statistics” (bust/waist/hip measurements), with one use of the word “ssok” being to stress how concave something is. In fairness, it’s quite apt for a slimming product.

(For more posts in the “Korean Sociological Image” series, see here)