중앙데일리

Product placement frustrates drama fans

Some viewers even turning away from advertised goods

Jan 13,2011
In a scene from the SBS drama “My Girlfriend is a Nine-Tailed Fox,” the female lead advises her friend to drink vegetable juice manufactured by Korea Yakult. The company’s contract with the broadcaster dictates that its logo be shown in all 16 episodes. Provided by Korea Yakult

Rain or shine, the characters in “Secret Garden” always go to the same cafe. Their regular visits have nothing to do with status or proximity, but a newly revised broadcasting law.

Late last month, the Korea Communications Commission, the nation’s broadcasting regulator, eased regulations on product placement in television programs on national networks. Under the new law, all television programs except news, documentaries and editorial and debate shows are allowed to show brand names and corporate logos. Product placement was once strictly prohibited on all shows.

The result is that dramas and other programs have begun saturating their shows with products to the point that television programs can feel like a lengthy commercial advertisement.

Take “Secret Garden” for example - a fantasy drama in which the two main characters swap souls. There seems to be no end to products advertised on the show, from Caffe Bene coffee to MontBell outdoor gear.

In one scene, one of the male leads tries out the latest function on his mobile phone and the camera zooms in and lingers on the glossy device. In another scene, a group of men go to a MontBell store that sells outdoor clothing and gear. Though they’re just there to pick up winter jackets, the clothing store’s logo is prominently displayed right behind the actors.

Main characters on the SBS drama “Secret Garden” wear clothes by MontBell Korea. Provided by MontBell Korea

Such blatant product placement has caused some viewers to grumble that it can ruin the experience of watching the show.

“‘Secret Garden’ has strong production values with a creative story and meaty performances, but frequent product placements detract from its overall quality,” viewer Yu Su-hyun wrote on the show’s Web site last month.

Excessive placement can even turn viewers away from the products being advertised.

“I’m sick and tired of these advertisements,” viewer Jeong So-yeon wrote on the show’s site. “I don’t want to use any of the products [shown in the drama].”

Businesses, however, are happy about the relaxed rules because they believe product placement is an effective form of advertising.

MontBell Korea is one of the beneficiaries of the new regulation.

“We sponsor the drama and have a contract that says our logo be shown in scenes when actors wear our clothes,” said Lee Hye-sun, an official with the outdoor clothing company. “The same model clothes as the actors wear are all sold out.”

Korea Yakult, a local beverage maker, is another company that said it’s pleased with the new rules on product placement.

“We’re happy that we can advertise our products in popular dramas,” said Lee Bae-young, a Korea Yakult official.

The company places its drinks in the MBC drama “Queen of Reversals.”

“There is one scene in which one of the characters advises a co-worker to drink one of our beverages,” Lee said.

The drink manufacturer started placing products last year when it inserted its vegetable juice into the SBS drama “My Girlfriend is a Nine-Tailed Fox.” In one scene, an elderly man gives the main character the vegetable juice, saying, “Drink this. It’s good for you.”

Officials at Korea Yakult and MontBell Korea declined to comment when asked how much each product-placement contract is worth.

Local IT companies, including Samsung and LG Electronics, have also capitalized on the changes to the law. Samsung’s Galaxy Tab often makes appears when the host of SBS’s “Chocolate” uses the device to demonstrate an important point. But it’s not just the businesses that are pleased. Production companies and broadcasting stations also welcome the changes.

“The cost of producing a 20-episode drama is astronomical. To be honest, it’s hard to produce a show without product placement,” said a production company official who wished to remain anonymous. “But we try to find natural ways to place the products so that viewers won’t be too distracted.”

By Sung So-young [so@joongang.co.kr]


Related Korean Article [머니투데이]

<시크릿가든> `윤슬샴푸` 어디꺼야?

[[머니위크]드라마 PPL 전성시대 빛과 그림자]

SBS 주말드라마 <시크릿가든>에서 한류스타 오스카와 애증관계를 이뤄가고 있는 차도녀(차가운 도시 여자) 윤슬(김사랑). 친구와 함께 미용실을 찾은 그녀가 말한다. “위기의 순간일수록 여자가 지켜야 할 건 딱 하나야. 미모” 그리고 머리를 감으러 가는 윤슬을 본 친구가 미용실 직원과 나누는 대화. “슬이가 쓰는 저 샴푸 뭐에요?” “외제인데 향이 좋아서 요즘 인기에요.”

아마 이쯤 되면 시청자도 눈치 챘을 것이다. 샴푸 PPL인 이 장면에 등장한 샴푸는 미국 보그 인터내셔널의 오가닉스. 방영 후 이 샴푸는 금세 화제에 오르며 ‘윤슬 샴푸’로 유명세를 톡톡히 치렀다.

단 1분. 시청자의 눈을 사로잡는 데 그리 긴 시간은 필요하지 않다. 최근 프랜차이즈업체마다 드라마 PPL(product in placement) 참여에 적극적인 이유다.


*등장인물 직업, 성격, 에피소드…이게 다 PPL이었어?

드라마가 끝나고 엔딩을 알리는 음악이 시작된다. 동시에 화면 하단에 자막 형태로 업체명이 나열된다. 어떤 업체가 이 드라마에 제작 지원을 해줬는지 알려주는 ‘제작지원 바’다. …

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