Ok, so this is an incredibly broad topic, because there are so many different forms of advertisement, not just in Korea, but everywhere in the world. Doing a short video about all that Korea has to offer in terms of advertisement is impossible, so we just talked about some of the things that stood out for us.

One of the things we didn’t mention, though, but we discussed with each other, was how cosmetics are marketed here. Now, I haven’t seen all of the cosmetic ads in both Canada and Korea, but for some reason I remember Canadian makeup ads seeming all scientific and stuff. People in lab coats with clipboards being like “we found the scientific formula to make you not have uglies” with chemical compounds silhouetted on the screen. The doctor is always a beautiful blonde girl with her hair in a bun with thin metal framed glasses. It’s all sciencey and stuff. In Korea, though, it seems like the cosmetics ads are more…nature based? Like “holy shit! I found this fresh fruit right off this tree! Let me crack this badboy in half and rub its insides on my face.” And they don’t even rub it on their face. They delicately dab their finger in it and then dab their face as well. Then they splash a boatload of water. So much splashes! But it’s so natural! Straight from Mother Nature! Is it just me? Maybe I remember ads differently:

Side note: we finished this video SO EARLY compared to our other videos. We usually film, edit, and publish TL;DRs on the same day. We thought this week, though, that we were going to be in Japan for the second part of our project….buuuuut it turns out that Japan is supposed to have another crazy storm happening the SAME DAY that we’re supposed to fly in. What is it with us and our bad luck for weather? I think Mother Nature is telling us to stay in Korea. Ha! Anyhow, we filmed this early so we can get this up before we went to Japan, and it turns out we didn’t need to film so early. Huzzah! We should be going NEXT week, though. I’m just afraid of mentioning that out loud in case Mother Nature reads this blog, which I doubt she does. I’m sure she has other cool stuff to read instead. I heard she was vegan. Just saying.

Another thing we didn’t mention that we find really interesting is TV advertisements. Namely, they’re not cutting the TV show into pieces all of the time. In Canada, it’s like, here’s 6 minutes of the TV show, and then here’s two minutes of ads, with another 6 minutes or so, and another 2 minutes of ads. In Korea, though, in an hour-long program, the show will air uninterrupted for its duration, 45 minutes or so, and then ads will be shown AFTERWARDS for 15 minutes or so. Isn’t that brilliant? Think about North American shows for a second, and how the show is edited with commercials in mind.

And the person….who will be leaving…MasterChef…today….is………….
….and the person….who will be leaving….MasterChef….today….is….

Oh man those shows are so terribly edited. Holy hell! I hate it so terribly. But the shows here in Korea aren’t edited with that evil-ness in mind. HOWEVER, because of the lack of commercials during the programming, you might notice a boatload of shameless product placements in the videos themselves. Excuse me: just let me hold this Pepsi with my fingertips as I show the logo for all to see. AH! That was so refreshing, wasn’t it?

Last thing I want to mention, going back to small business advertising: we feel this the most whenever we come back from Tokyo, but we really hate those inflatable balloons outside of restaurants and noraebangs on the sidewalks of Korea. If you’ve been here, you know what I’m talking about. So many shops have them. Big inflatable things eight feel tall saying “Noraebang here!” or “Salon here!” outside of all of the businesses. Walking on the sidewalk sometimes feels like a modern day slalom. It’s tacky. Tokyo doesn’t have it. I don’t think it’s particularly interesting, and it just makes the place look cheaper. Let me know if you agree.

Yeah! So that’s it for this week’s TL;DR. Let us know how things are in your country and if you noticed any differences when you were traveling elsewhere. Yay! But before we go, let’s leave you with this stellar piece of honest advertising:


Also, let us know what you thought of the ending of this week’s TL;DR. We feel like you guys leave some really great comments, and we’d like to include those in our videos in the future, where we can talk about them a bit, and just show our thanks for your engagement. If it was lame, umm, don’t be afraid to tell us. We can take it!

Otherwise, make sure you click on this pretty button down here, so we can share some more cool stuff with you for our FAVORITE section of the week. We love doing these TL;DRs. Thanks for watching them, guise!

  1. Hey I love the comments at the end of the video!! But maybe 3 is a bit much? I think 1 is enough. Otherwise we’ll just zone out….

  2. Celebrity advertising in Finland can be boiled down to exactly one thing: Hockey players. That’s all we have. Poor Selänne’s stuck doing weird, slightly creepy, way-too-long milk commercials.

  3. Very interesting to read how commercials vary from country to country. As a rule of thumb, I don’t buy products advertised by celebrities because it make them untrustworthy to me. They are getting paid to push a product they most likely never used until they had to endorse it.

  4. Allen Goldin

    I think commercials are a bit annoying all across the globe, but some countries do make an effort to better adapt commercial breaks in the network schedules just to make them a little more bearable. Unfortunately Romania (where I currently live) is not one of them. Except for the ones on public networks and on demand channels, every single piece of tv programming is butchered to make room for commercials.
    The most watched show here, which is the Romanian version of The Voice, is probably the worst edited one. They stretch it so much here with 10 minute commercial breaks every 15 minutes, add that with 5 minute previews of what’s gonna happen after each break and a shit load of product placement. It’s such a waste of time that it makes it almost unbearable to watch.
    By the way, I saw that Korea has it’s own version of the Voice too, and I was wondering if you guise watch it. I think it’s a good thing for Korea to start promoting people that are different and to show you don’t have to look like a kpop star to be as talented or even more. Anyway, it’s really cool that you can watch something on tv over there that’s not filled with adds during the content airtime.

  5. Rabbit Mouse

    Today, there was an article about SMOG in China and that it’s so extreme at the moment that even Seoul is affected by it. That’s why nobody should go out at the moment. So, what’s it like in Seoul right now?

  6. AppleCider ChocolateCinnamon-b

    I have a question for TL;DR. I’m currently trying to learn Korean. I’ve already familiarized myself with Hangul and can read it (very slowly). and I can say very basic words, but I’m trying to find a faster way to build up my vocabulary but whenever I search “Korean word games” I can only find the generic flash card memorization and other boring methods where they dump categorized words and tell you to remember. ARE THERE ANY FUN WAYS?! No Korean Scrabble?
    No fun computer games for toddlers? (which I had when I was younger, it was called kindergarten jump start)

  7. IDEA FOR VIDEO: a co-lab with My Korean Husband! Maybe about their recent move and how easy it is for foreigners to get settled in Korea? Is it different in Seoul versus the country? Did you find community at your jobs or in other ways that made it easier? How long was it until you felt like Korea was home for you? Was there was a definite moment that you felt comfortable?

  8. So Ji Sub is promoting a bra for the brand, VIVIEN. Totally normal xD


  9. AudreyKoopman

    You mentioned commercials involving fridges and all I could think of was this, one of the best commercials ever.


  10. omg i’m crying at that commercial

  11. Cindy Almond
    Cindy Almond

    Wow, this is soooo long. Had a few comments to the video and other responses, hope I’m not being too repetitive:
    1. That CABI commercial was crazy long. Any longer and it’d be an infomercial, except without the info. In the US, ads are generally short and sometimes have a shorter version for … different commercial breaks, I guess. Our longest ads are generally the ones for prescription drugs, and this is mostly because they have to read the warning label, which takes about a minute and a half, and they want to spend at least as much time on the upside.
    2. We have an unusual ad situation during the Super Bowl (the final playoff game of the American football season). Since ad time during the game is really expensive, advertisers put up their best work in those slots, which has led to awards for the best commercial debuted during a certain year’s Super Bowl and even to hyping the commercials that are going to appear. “Make sure you watch the Super Bowl so you can see our hilarious new ad!”
    3. Someone mentioned that in Poland, commercial networks have frequent commercial breaks while public networks only show commercials between shows. It’s that way in the US, too, except there’s only one public network (PBS), and it makes most of its money from telethons and wealthy benefactors. (Incidentally, radio is the same way, except they have commercial breaks in their programming and still need fund drives.)
    4. Not quite on topic, but why does CF mean “commercial” to Koreans? I’ve tried to guess what it stands for, but I always come up blank.
    Sorry; I tried to keep it short.

  12. Can you guys talk about kim yuna’s medal placement in sochi olympics? Everyone in Korea is going crazy cuz of that.

  13. can you guys please talk about how korea ((and you guise)) reacted to the women’s figure skating results in the sochi olympics??? were there protests or any accidents involving angry kim-yuna fans? what do you guise think about it? thanks so much guise ^^~*

  14. SAMSUNG!!!!!!!!! Gosh I don’t know if anyone notices, but in EVERY modern drama they use Samsung phones. Also in a Ukiss video I believe they’re like “look at me using my Samsung watch.” “Let me show you my Samsung phone.” “Oh my I love my Samsung tablet!”
    Gosh that is so annoying sometimes!!!
    Or the Samsung commercials of Dramafever. Its like a 20 second ad where you can look around at the items but the timer is going by SO SLOW. So instead of a 20 second ad its really like 30 seconds.

  15. Elina Peyda
    Elina Peyda

    I really liked the ending, I actually got a bit surprised (and I almost clicked the video away – oops!) but I really like this new idea! :D

    There’s a food store company here in Sweden who usually (more or less always) make funny commercials for the TV. They started with that when I was a kid, and it worked! People talked about them everywhere and the characters in it. I can’t remember that any other company had funny commercials before this food company (that’s maybe because I was a kid so I don’t remember that many commercials before but anyways >.> ) and since then, other companies also began making fun ads as well.

    And I’ve also recently noticed new kinds of ads… the “you deserve this”-kind. There’s an ad at the bus stop by my school (only a few meters away) and it says something like “Congratulations, you made it this far! Now you deserve a chocolate wafer!”. Like, what? No one deserves anything, at least not us high school students who walk a few meters to this stop, haha! xD And I also saw another ad on the train: You deserve this as a snack (is it ok to translate mellanmål to snack, dear fellow Swedish nasties?) and it was full of sugar and candy. Like. No. Thank. You.

    Anyway, time to quit my babbling now~ Keep up the good work!

  16. I remember figuring out that if an famous actor was doing commercials, he/she wasn’t a big deal/popular anymore. Now maybe it isn’t quite as pronounced, but in the US, actors are more likely to become famous (for 15 minutes at least) from a commercial then a famous actor choosing to do commercials. It is a come-down.
    However, athletes can do commercials and it can be a step up. (wheaties – used to be famous for it)

  17. Amy F ;)

    PS, I totally laughed when I read about picking fruit right off the tree and applying its guts to my face…if no one is around and I’m cooking breakfast or something, I will save the mango peel or piece of lemon or strawberry and rub it on my face to use as a 10 minute mask. It brightens my skin (especially freckles!) and the fruit acids exfoliate.
    Hope Japan is awesome, whenever you get to go!

  18. In Norway the advertisments vary a lot from product to product. Like, they use the football players and skiers for commercials regarding certain types of food or sports equipment, (and sometimes clothing) but other than that I don’t really see a lot of advertisments where Norwegian celebreties are used. It’s getting more and more popular, however, to use international (mainly American) celebreties in commercials. For example they used George Clooney in a lottery commercial, where a woman wakes up next to him because she won the lottery. Apparently their slogan is “lottery-millionaires aren’t like regular millionaires”.

    There are also lot of international commercials on Norwegian TV, like the Nikon commerical with Usain Bolt. There’s also a rapidly increasing number of billboards etc. that are “subtitled” in English and other languages because of the increasing number of immigrants.

  19. Amy F ;)

    Who is on Martina’s sweatshirt?

    I think its fun you mentioned the fridges, when we started watching kdramas my husband and I always had a good laugh about the water bottle doors built in to the front. We decided that feature saves energy by not releasing as much cold air into the room as if they had opened the whole door?

    Anyway, I was pleasantly surprised when you commented on the comments! I agree that it could be overdone, but some is fun!

    Simon, you totally have a point that there is not a lot of available research on drinking fluids with meals although I still stand by Drakmore’s mom, lol- I searched for a hour and only came up with 5 links that discuss this. They are all from sites that are selling stuff. Usually all the more reputable-looking, government sites are years behind everyone else so I didn’t spend time on those. I must have read about it originally in books. I had to read a ton of books about digestion (I’m a nerd) and nutrition because I was so sick and the doctors weren’t helping. I think the current main consensus is that water 30 min. before mealtimes helps provide enough hydration for making proper digestive fluid, (saliva, stomach acid), but closer to mealtimes would dilute those fluids so that they wouldn’t be as effective at breaking down the food. In people with healthy digestion (lucky you!), its not going to a big deal, but sicklies like me have to pay attention to it. I think with soup, it depends on if your body recognizes the proteins and can make the right enzymes to digest it. How the soup is prepared (what’s in it) and how hydrated you are to start with all affect how well you could digest it, even though its a liquid. Chriskesser.com has lots of lengthy posts about digestion that seem well-researched, but I’m out of time for today (need to cook lunch;).

  20. we have those trucks here in spain as well

  21. Marzia Matalone
    Marzia Matalone

    I think that the ways of marketing change a lot in every country…since kpop and idols are so popular there, of course they become the best vehicle for adverticement and products placement…they are looked at as perfection icons , morover they are so similar to the characters of a story that goes on everyday, that they can be anything in the public eyes even without a real link to the product they are selling…

  22. In Australia there’s a lot of quirky, funny and silly ads. A ram hiding in a kitchen cabinet that bursts out on an unsuspecting family and does a Rams car insurance pitch. Free range bread being herded on a picturesque farm.

    Ads that throw in the unexpected are big too. I think the most recent one gaining a lot of attention would be this (graphic image warning): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ty3kl0v8Kl0

    There’s also this ‘words of wisdomy’ or patriotic vibe to a lot of them. Good examples are the beer and generation lamb ads. A more risqué example would be the Dick Smith Australian food one (which was banned from prime time tv).

    Wanting to bring out ‘Australianess’ could also explain why the Vegemite campaign still uses footage from it’s 1959 commercials and the Mortein fly thug Louie has never changed. Not to mention VB and Cottee’s cordial have used the same soundtrack and ending for over 30 years making them iconic (even if VB is terrible). They’re part of the landscape and highlight how long the company has been serving Australian consumers.

    The last thing, tunes, sound tracks and catchy slogans running through multiple campaigns can catch on for years. ‘Not happy Jan!’, ‘Slip Slop Slap’ and the I like aeroplane jelly song are ingrained in my psyche due to years of repetition.

    To end though, Korea’s nightmare version of the ice cream truck, oh god, so good. I need to experience this phenomenon right. now.

  23. There is a French website (created because of a TV program about ads that stopped broadcasts a while ago) about TV ads around the world. Videos are usually subtitled in English (because French is overrated…) and here’s the link to look for videos by countries: http://www.culturepub.fr/pays
    I found that there are ads for Japan but none for Korea and I was disappointed.
    Although I found one video I really liked by chance on culturepub.fr about tea though, it totally could’ve been sensational in Korea with K-pop artists I guess, the Yorkshire Tea song. It’s so funny and catchy, I love it. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GFfn8L2saYI

    Otherwise, I read somewhere on dramabeans that some Korean TV cable shows try to incorporate ads, into a drama broadcast for instance, and their first attempts were pretty clumsy with the cuts. And because here’s already ads inside the drama, with product placement, it seems a bit weird.

    I remember coming across a Korean ad for ramyun that was reaaaally weird… can’t remember the product though, but a Korean actor was all bad ass and I think there was fire involved. Dunno, so weird.

    In France, we now have a law against ads during prime time on public channels, but private channels still have theirs and it’s so damn annoying, but apparently less than in North Amercia, so there’s that. Anyways, there are some complaints because of the no ads policy in the evening because of money (who would’ve thought?!).

    There’s also regulations about billboards, signs and stuff. I don’t think there’ll ever be a Time Square or Picadilly Circus shiny fancy ads in France, but who knows.

    Plain old ads with pictures and texts are the norm but more and more ou have those television boards with animated stuff that I hate.

    Also, we have those “huge” (I don’t think we have bigger than the pictures I found, sorry if I’m late) billboards that have two ads or more. Either it’s a system where the posters roll so you can see other one (http://static.latribune.fr/article_page/133424/panneaux-pubs.png for instance), or you can have a board painted on, I don’t know, some kind of bars that turn to show you another ad (like this http://static.ladepeche.fr/content/media/image/zoom/2011/04/07/201104071712.jpg this area is full of ads because it’s an industrial/shopping area on the fringe of the city, you have less ads in the town centres and all) and usually thoses are old and noisy because of rust or whatever…

    We don’t really have ice cream trucks (like it can happen but it’s fairly rare where I’m from in France at least, maybe it’s more common in the South and the North of France because they usually have all the cool stuff!) but we have those trucks going around telling you the circus is in town and I love those (here’s the only example I could find http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=00zQ6iKr35Y ).

    There is something I was curious about foreign ads in Korea. Do famous brands hire Asian actors for their ads or do they keep the (usually) American ones?
    Other thing I was curious about: Korean car ads. Are they any different from North American ones or European ones?

  24. Korean people think the more commercials a celebrity is in, the more famous and popular she or he is. The celebrities know that and want to be in commercials. A very popular and pretty (with good skin) female celebrity gets to advertise cosmetics, so she is usually proud to advertise the product. Also usually really popular top celebrities advertise refrigerator, apartment, and some things that are relatively expensive. And the reason they advertise something that are not related to them is because the people who make the advertisement chooses the celebrities by their character and image, not by whether they are related to the product or not. For example, I think Big Bang advertised the alcohol brand because the advertisement maker wanted their lively and young image.

  25. Karen Rivera

    This is like my third comment OTL lol but I just remembered that some ads will make whoever is advertising it “famous”. Like whenever you see that person, or even animal, people will know what’s being advertised. Geico has the gecko and Progressive insurance has Flo.

  26. Karen Rivera

    For the loud truck drivers, in Puerto Rico, people drive around with huge speakers on top of their trucks or whatever with the radio on or for promoting stuff as well. You could say I’m used to it since I go there almost every year lol Though the people with the speakers don’t actually have anything in their vehicle to sell, it’s just for promotion.

  27. Karen Rivera

    The main thing I see celebrities promote (mostly musicians) is Pepsi and Coca Cola, like Taylor Swift is promoting Diet Coke lately. I’ve also seen for yogurt, like Jamie Lee Curtis is the face of Activia and John Stamos has done some yogurt commercials too. Today I saw a new yogurt commercial of John Stamos (can’t remember the yogurt brand lol) and Dave Coulier and Bob Saget were in the commercial too! I was like FULL HOOOOOOOOOOOUSEEE lol There are definitely billboards here in America. There are also digital billboards where it’ll change so that multiple ads can go there, not just three like those other changing billboards. My favorite commercials right now are for AT&T! They’re so funny! xD Here’s one of them: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l61LjTwME7w

  28. Sarah Kim

    HEYYYYYY~ -o- ~ Simon and Martina, We all know that everyone , worldwide, is crazy for the Sochi Winter Olympics. In Korea, how do people feel about the olympics? Do they go crazy when an athlete from Korea( ex: KimYuna) wins a medal? How about other sports events (ex:Soccer)? Does everyone have that “crazy” spirit in Korea? or is it really unlikely? Thanks~

  29. L Meoka

    I don’t know what I found funnier in the Caribean Bay ad, the fact that it’s basically a mini drama that was four minutes long, or how serious they all were in the beginning… or possibly even the supper shinny oiled bodies ‘>.>…>.<"…<.<' "I swear I'm not watching anything weird", on comes the sprite commercial "okay. ahhh…I would say I could explain…but…boobies (?)(?)"

  30. Could you talk about Sports in Korea. I know you’ve talked about health and fitness before, but is there much of a culture of competitive sports?

  31. Korea definitely uses their celebrities like crazy, although most of the ads are pretty fun to watch, they’re usually light and funny/have eye candy while American commercials are so bland and ugly lol
    Agreed with the triple H girls and Chum Churum, that was so ridiculous. Selling a female body at its finest, sometimes I wonder if the girls actually like doing that and don’t feel violated at all.

    Wait you HAVE to wear swim caps?

  32. Freddie Engberg

    I think you’re really right about celebrities in ads, they seem to be everywhere in Korea. Here in Sweden there’s one with the soccer player Zlatan reciting the national anthem to advertise for a car. And I’m definitely shaped by the culture, cause I’m just like “wtf what does it have to do with cars”, but if I’d seen the same thing in Korea I probably wouldn’t have reacted at all, haha.
    Another thing I’ve noticed is all the music video ads. In Sweden they’d just make a short clip telling us why with should by the thing, but in Korea they make a full 3 min music video just showing good looking people use it or whatever (both the Cabi Song and Chocolate Love by SNSD and F(x)). It kinda feels like it’s somewhere between an ad and product placement, but it’s a lot more fun! Also the whole SM the Ballad vol. 2 is basically the same thing with several music videos in several languages just for promoting Changmin’s new drama. Maybe a bit too much? But it did made me curious about it, so they might be successfull… ;)

  33. Priya Bansal

    I loved the thing at the end :)

  34. Cosmic Cat

    Don’t Korean singers advertise like everything? We don’t really use singers. Infact the only singer that I can think of who is advertising stuff right now is Cheryl Cole. Mostly you’ll see actors. I don’t know what adverts are like in other countries. Most of the ones in the UK are boring, you will get the odd one that is funny but the rest are like “there’s a sale, buy now!”. I can’t believe they don’t show adverts during the programme over there! It’s so annoying (espesh when watching a film) when adverts arrive every 15 mins >_< We do have the BBC which is advert free but we have to pay a tv licence. I can't think of anymore to type so I'll leave you with this ad I saw the other night :3 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uxXZ_uEVr9c

  35. Mariam Watt
    Mariam Watt

    In the states, you’ll see actresses working for Cover Girl or Neutrogena. But with a few exceptions, the bigger a star you are, the less likely you are to advertise anything other than really expensive items like cars or Rolex watches or high fashion. Stars are very selective because they want to protect their image. I think its looked down upon in the States, acting in commercials is how you get your start in acting, you don’t go back to it once you are a star. Although you will see a lot of American celebrities go overseas and be in advertisements for all kinds of things they would never advertise in America.

  36. Sweet_Alina

    In Germany there are nearly no celebraties used for ads except if you are a football player… then you will endorse cars, shoes, chips, sweets, beer, hotels, banks….. everything!!

  37. Carley MacKenzie

    I actually REALLY enjoyed the new end of this :) I think it is really cool. Sometimes, when you are looking through comments, there are just a bunch of really boring generic messages. This, however, makes it easier for viewers to be lazy hahah “I can just wait for Simon and Martina to TELL me what I missed” woohoo

    Also, it feels like more interaction between you guys and the viewers which is nice :)
    Hope you can continue to do so~

  38. WillLooksLikeGavin

    Hi Guys! I’ve noticed that Kim Yuna is getting a lot of praise for her Olympic medal on idol sites but how much of celebrities are Sports People. Do they advertise products or appear on Variety Shows. How does the celebrity status of an athlete compare to that of a K-Pop group.

  39. I didn’t grow up in Toronto and those Ice Cream trucks scare the crap out of me. Its like they came straight out of a horror movie every time I hear them.

  40. Well I dont have that much comments about Canada’s CM. You already done it and I find our CM quite boring. But I can talk about the CM in JP XD. Last year, my favorite JPOP group (NEWS) did a CM for ”Kirei CM’s Campaign “Sarahada””. It was a BRA CM. In fact, only their new single (Nagisa no Onee Summer) was used during the CM…but it was kind of strange XD. Even more when the boys did a contest during their radio show. You had to send an email, with your bra size and all….and if you win you would get a bra of this size XD. I doubt the guys actually saw the bra size informations …but seriously it was awkward XD.

    Anyway, Japan have a lot of CM with idols too and with every products you can possibily think about. It was quite effective on me ….I bought some stuff after seeing the idols cm XD.

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