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. 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?

  3. 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?

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


  5. 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.

  6. 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!

  7. 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)

  8. 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!

  9. 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;).

  10. 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…

  11. 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~

  12. 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 (?)(?)"

  13. 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?

  14. 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

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

  17. Omg, this made me laugh :) thanks for sharing

  18. I live in Finland and lot of product sold here come from European countries and from US so most of advertisements come from those countries too, we just dub majority of them ^^;

    In my country celebrities aren’t used that much, but for example sometimes famous athletes advertises healthy products. However you often see same persons in different advertises, I think they are advertisement models or actors XD Especially same company tends to use same people.

    Advertising alcohol on television is intresting debate in my country since it has been banned and unbanned time to time. I think problem is that Finland wants it banned and EU demands it unbanned. Right now you can advertise mild alcohol drinks (lower than 22%) but not strong one’s in anyway. However I haven’t seen any tv ads about alcohol drinks lately, but there is always street ads. Also cigarets are illegal to advertise in anyway.

  19. For those of you looking for the refrigerator commercial here’s an example. It empahsizes the fact that it can pack lots of stuff:

  20. OK because a few people are sharing their favorite commercials, I have to share this gem. My favorite part is when he is talking about the different ways to contact the professors. And the last statement “Hey, what’s your wifi password?” is true of anybody who lives in the U.S. You might not say it but everyone is thinking it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NsuSTbrdlE8

  21. I love that you read out the comments! Speaking as someone who gets depressed and paranoid when people don’t reply to my texts or tweets or emails or anything it’s nice to know that you do actually read comments! :)

    As for advertising, I found that at least between Britain and China, the purpose of the ad seems to differ – in Britain there seems to be more emphasis on building the brand and TV ads tend to be slightly more creative in terms of how they present the product and try to differentiate it, whereas when I went to China on holiday the ads seemed very direct and shameless about plugging the actual product. While I know that commercialism isn’t really to be admired for its artistic-ness, I do appreciate ads that are a little more interesting, original, memorable or thought-provoking? Especially since they take up so much of my TV watching time. I often found myself having uncontrollable cringe attacks when the situations presented in Chinese (and Korean and Japanese ads that I’ve seen) are so obviously fake and unrealistic (not that I’m saying those presented in Western ads are real but they are a little more believable and they sometimes try to be a bit more relatable).

    Also, with celebrity endorsements, I’m not a celebrity so I don’t know, but I would have thought there would be some stigma associated with endorsing something as non-luxury or not cool as fried chicken (for a singer or model at least, not saying fried chicken is not cool, but come on, it’s physically impossible to eat fried chicken gracefully), whereas it seems in Korea that any endorsement is a good endorsement and it improves rather than damages your image? I can’t imagine say Miley Cyrus agreeing to be the face of KFC for example (maybe high-end goods like cosmetics though). Maybe that’s just a difference in celebrity culture? Idols in Korea are more open to all sorts of areas like advertising whereas those in America or Britain prefer to remain planted in music? I haven’t seen many American ads so I can’t speak for them, but I for one can say I have never seen a singer in any sort of ad on TV except for music-related ones e.g. radio. Oh apart from Cheryl Cole for cosmetics, but I think cosmetics and perfume and jewellery and stuff is almost another category of ads on their own really.

  22. Hands down, my favourite Korean CF is the Lotte one with Hyun Bin, 2PM, BIGBANG, JYJ (roll down those sexy windows JYJ), Jang Geun Suk, Kim Hyun Joong, Kim Tae Hee, and Song Seung Hun…it’s so crazy over the top that I just can’t help loving it! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XHyatjbhnQc

  23. I love the interaction at the end of this TL;DR. Also, that Caribbean Bay commercial reminded me of like a Korean version of the Real World (am I dating myself? Yes, probably).

  24. In the Philippines isn’t seriously 90% shampoo ads and all of them are exactly the same. Thats why I haven’t watched TV in years. Australian ads tho are one of the things I miss most about oz . There there is much more well planned and thought through ads, and tonnes of banks and insurance and cars

  25. Great video! I feel like tv advertisements in Korea seem to make the item magically better than they really are. Like you said, Western ads are more factual based (of course emotion based somewhat too). For example, the soju ad where the girl has terrible luck thoughout the day (late for meeting, mascara running, broken heel, etc) and someone shows her a bottle of soju and she immediately perks up and everything turns into a party. So funny! And so not true. Lol. I also feel like there’s a lot more singing in Korean ads than in Western ads… but maybe that’s because it’s kpop stars doing the advertising. :)

  26. interesting topic! regarding boobs in ads etc i’d definitely recommend you check out Miss Representation which was a super fascinating film about how women are portrayed in ads and generally across the media. it’s available on netflix (though i’m guessing that might not be an option in korea..) here’s a trailer – http://vimeo.com/18985647

  27. There’s a law in Korea that makes it illegal to show ads in the middle of a program. I think that applies to over-the-air channels only though. Cable and satellite-only broadcasters are exempt. It probably stems from the fact that the public ultimately owns the spectrum over-the-air broadcasters use, and chopping programs to show ads is against public interest. Unsurprisingly, Korean broadcasters are always lobbying to have that law changed.

  28. OMG The Coway ad makes me cringe so bad!!!! =_=

  29. That Coway jingle sure is catchy LOL

  30. Hope those circle lenses don’t cause you too much eye damage…

  31. question for TL;DR:

    You’ve mentioned how Korea has been getting used to accommodating pets in terms of parks, food stores, and vets, but can you tell us a little more about how apartment owners feel about taking tenants with pets? In Texas, even upon finding an apartment that doesn’t mind them, they usually charge several hundred dollars per pet.

  32. I know I can’t prove it, maybe If I post a picture of my high school report card/transcript. Anyhow, I went to a Vocational High School, and took 4 years of Advertising and Design classes in lieu of Gym. Frankly a bad ad, can really turn me away from a product, I find it interesting though the difference from Western and Korean ad’s. I can understand why its the norm for Kpop artists to be the face of so many different products, after all, they are marketed as “Idols” Where Typically in the states, an Actor, can cross over into the music industry but they rarely produce more than one hit if they do make it, and eventually stick to acting…. ranting… anyhow I really enjoyed the way this segment ended, its like a Q&A.

  33. This is the main reason why Netflix is something that EVERYONE uses. Netflix skips all those lame ads that don’t work and you can watch all your favorite shows easily! The only ads that everyone watches are the superbowl ads. Lol those tend to be funny.

  34. Why did the commercial for Caribbean Bay have to be a love story? It reminded me Dara, and Lee Min Ho in “kiss:” Im almost certain this is a commercial for Cass… I could be wrong.. but still. So cheesy. Though, id be lying If i said I didnt love it. haha >_<

  35. In Portugal, aside from ice-creams, there are some trucks selling stuff like potatoes or fish (in refrigerated vans) and (no idea how to translate>) “farturas” and sweet “churros” (the last ones are sold in roulottes). There are all sorts of other stuff like fruit and more. I have to say that both the potatoes and fish ones have always been useful. xD

    I only find them in my neighborhood in Lisbon nowadays but there might be more around.

    To explain the sweets I talk about above: well, it’s typical to eat these at street fairs or at popular celebrations close to amusement features like carousels and stuff.

    If it’s not well explained enough say something guys :)

    >”farturas” seller: http://bibliotecariodebabel.com/ficheiros/farturas.jpg

    >sweet and filled “churros”: http://cdn1.tweegee.com.br/Cms/News/4/0/504/98591_129626538218437500513_Original.jpg

    >regular thin “churros”: http://i113.photobucket.com/albums/n222/carlapinheiro16/Receitas/churros5.jpg

    >fish van: http://www.tvi24.iol.pt/multimedia/oratvi/multimedia/imagem/id/13580766/550
    I can’t find any pic of potato sellers.

  36. I’m from America so advertising (probably similar to canada, though I imagine a bit more shameless) is all tits and ass, ass and tits, food porn, food porn with titties, GET THIS CAR WITH 0 APR FINANCING FOR THE FIRST YEAR, PLEASE WATCH THIS SHOW THAT WILL BE CANCELED IMMEDIATELY FOR TERRIBLE PLOT/CONCEPT/WRITING/ACTING etc (these occasionally feature tits, ass (Male or female), and some sort of embarrassing moment OR Action packed chase), ACTION MOVIE WITH GUNS…that you didn’t even hear was coming out….why?? Do people watch all of them? They seem to all have the same plot and involve 1-2 people who don’t really understand each other or the rules of doing whatever…Also usually with some girl with nice bazongas who turns out to be good in a fight…
    ALSO Medicine with CGI cute or semi cute mascots, or celebrities telling me to be pretty bu using this natural, uber scientific new [makeup, facewash, toothpaste]. Also obligatory headphones or sportswear commercials–those air ALOT. oh, and sports commercials telling me I’m fat because I don’t exercise CONSTANTLY.
    We also have alot of insurance commercials from Geico to State Farm to Progressive, and they are always weird. ALWAYS.
    I have also gathered that all cell phone companies are equal since they all claim to be number 1 in the country.

    I feel like I might have over exaggerated the tush and titties, but kind of not. some are CERTAINLY much more blatant than others…like when the “sexy” woman takes a bite from a freshly microwaved hot pocket and says “That IS hot”. DON’T YOU KNOW THAT THAT IS BASICALLY LAVA IN A CRISPY BREAD SHELL??? THINK OF THE CHILDREN!!! Others are just subtle like women wearing slightly deeper v neck shirts or something or one less button buttoned. I personally like the ones shamelessly targeted at women with really handsome guys whose hotness ratio stipulates that they must have a brain the size of a pea or yknow….chocolate food porn…but the ads, especially for alcohol (minus skinny bitch cocktails), are more geared towards men.

    I’ve noticed lately that many commercials now have puppets. Unfortunately, they seem to usually get someone who is not a puppeteer or just a TERRIBLE one to do them. Alot of times they make that the gag, but it just doesn’t work. Im actually in school for puppetry and it is REALLY hard to watch them ruin it for the rest of us. If the only puppetry people are exposed to is crap, they’re going to think that that is what it will always be like :( (If you ever want to do a puppet segment I would find a way to fly to korea to help you!!! Other youtubers have done some, but they don’t do them well. I want to be your intern!)

    Wow this ended up really long…I guess that’s what happens after a long day of classes. Long time watcher first time posting.

  37. I do like the commentating on the comments… (insert joke here)
    Really though, it reminds me of PBS Idea Channel and that makes me happy xD

  38. In Portugal, aside from ice-creams, there are some trucks selling stuff like potatoes or fish (in refrigerated vans) and (no idea how to translate>) “farturas” and sweet “churros” (the last ones are sold in roulottes). I don’t recall seeing much else, but both the potatoes and fish ones have always been useful. xD
    I only find them in my neighborhood in Lisbon nowadays but there might be more around.

  39. In Portugal, aside from ice-creams, there are some trucks selling stuff like potatoes or fish (in refrigerated vans) and (no idea how to translate) “farturas” and sweet “churros” (the last ones are don’t move around). I don’t recall seeing much else, but both the potatoes and fish ones have always been useful. xD I only find them in my neighborhood in Lisbon nowadays but there might be more around.

  40. In Portugal, aside from ice-creams, there are some trucks selling stuff like potatoes or fish (in refrigerated vans) and (no idea how to translate) “farturas” and sweet “churros” (the last ones are don’t move around). I don’t recall seeing much else, but both the potatoes and fish ones have always been useful. xD I only find them in my neighborhood in Lisbon nowadays but there might be more around.

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