K-Dramas and Now K-Products: Indian Viewers Become “K” Brand Aware

Are you guilty of ordering packets of “ramyun” noodles or scouring the net for a hitherto unknown brand of lipstick? As Korean shows introduce new products to Indian viewers, you’re not alone, you’re just one of thousands caught up in a “K wave” sweeping across screens big and small.

The world of “K-dramas” has opened a new chapter in product placement, or PPL, the practice by which manufacturers or providers of a service publicize their products by paying for them to be featured in movies and television programs. And just as viewers learn about a new culture and its ways – the word for this South Korean cultural phenomenon is hallyu – they get to know different brands.

In a world of one-click shopping anywhere, all of these products are also available at your doorstep. So Doha-based Sugandha Sharma said she turned to Korean beauty brand Laneige when she saw Song Hye-kyo, one of Hallyu’s main stars, using her products in the drama. K hit “Descendants of the Sun” six years ago.

“Following these dramas and their perfect seven-step routine for glass skin, I was inspired to achieve this type of skin. So I googled the famous Korean brands I came across during these I started using the Innisfree Jeju Volcanic Clay Mask because Jeju Island is mentioned very frequently in K-dramas,” Sharma told PTI by phone.

Abhijit Prasad, an advertising professional, said the PPL model has been around since 1960s syndicated TV shows such as American Classics. i love lucy and The Brady Group.

“It’s about integrating the product into the living room, and product integration becomes a brilliant way for a product to meet its world. A brand’s personality can be shaped by the stories of pop culture,” said he told PTI.

A celebrity collaboration with a brand is purely a matter of “share swap,” Prasad said.

“In other words, Ranbir Kapoor will make Pepsi cooler, but Pepsi will also make it better.”

The stock exchange clearly works.

Sharma said she also uses the Mediheal sheet masks because “Crash Landing On You” star Hyun Bin, Park Seo-joon and South Korean music sensation BTS do too.

Chitralekha A Borah, 14, and her mother are the proverbial peas in a pod when it comes to being fans of South Korean musical sensation BTS. While Borah confessed that she only found interest in K-dramas last year, she started using Korean products thanks to her mother.

A proud member of BTS ARMY (the name by which fans of popular K-pop group BTS identify themselves across the world), she said watching the septet eat together during a V Live session piqued her interest in Korean cuisine, especially “bibimmyeon”. (spicy Korean cold noodles).

“Getting Korean food in India is extremely rare. My mom started ordering Nongshim Shin ramyun from Big Basket after watching BTS eat these noodles on their reality TV series ‘Bon Voyage’. Sometimes we also try to do jumping chicken. My mum also buys beauty products from Innisfree,” Delhi-based Borah told PTI.

When done tastefully, PPLs work brilliantly.

Citing the example of Kopiko coffee-flavored caramel, an Indonesian brand that featured in the hit K-drama “Hometown Cha-Cha-Cha,” Prasad said the company’s idea was to get as close as possible. coffee fairness.

“It takes time to make a cup of coffee or order it. This product is instant and fits in your pocket.

Vincenzo star Song Joong-ki had to apologize due to a Chinese company’s placement of bibimbap on the show. (Photo source: TVN Drama/Instagram)

“(The popularity of) Shin Ramyun has increased wildly over the past few months. People post Instagram stories about it. It’s basically part of that niche audience that loves cup noodles. This “I want the real thing”. It is becoming quite popular now and more and more as ramyeon becomes mainstream,” he explained.

Ramyun or ramyeon are the instant variety of noodles that come in different wrappers and flavors. They should not be confused with ramen, another popular noodle dish that is prepared fresh. But then K-drama regulars would know.

Prasad said the viewer knows where the ad ends and the story begins. “And nobody wants to watch a really long commercial,” he added.

Audiences tend to shun advertising as if it were “a disease”, observed Prasad.

Sharma, a social media manager at an education company, said PPL didn’t bother her.

“It doesn’t irritate me much because I understand the importance of product placement being a marketer myself.”

Not everyone agrees.

For Min Kim, a Korean based in Toronto, product placement is a huge downside.

The Busan-born VFX artist said product positioning in shows is sometimes “unnatural” and ends up interrupting the storyline.

Recalling the controversy that “Descendants of the Sun” faced at the time, Kim said that two characters named Seo Dae-young and Youn Myeong-joo, played by Jin Goo and Kim Ji-won respectively, kiss in a car in a scene.

“One of the main sponsors of the show is Hyundai and they want to show an automatic driving system, so one scene showed the couple kissing while their car was driving by itself. criticism because it’s not safe,” he added.

Shows such as Goblin: the lonely and great God, The King: Eternal Monarch and Memories of the Alhambra were lambasted for having too many PPLs included to handle the big budget of these star-studded series.

Last year, South Korean star Song Joong-ki issued an apology after his show “Vincenzo” featured an instant bibimbap product made by Chinese company Zi Hai Guo, which was criticized by local viewers.

Brand associations have to be done very smartly this way.

“On the safe side, you might be bland and therefore you’re not a mark on the edgy side, you might alienate,” Prasad said.

Overall, Korean brands have an “opportunity” here, he said.

“They’ve been smart about it in the past with Samsung and Hyundai. The opportunity here is the self-expressive advantage that you can communicate very easily through shows. If they’re smart, they’ll take advantage of that as well.

Over the past 20 years, Southeast Asia, including South Korea, has become a major destination for India, whether for work or a reasonable vacation, Prasad added.

“When you associate that with pop culture or people doing something on screen, that legitimizes it in a way. Then people search for those products or those brands.

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