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[PPL Round-up] Exercising the right to vacuum

We had so much fun with our previous feature on PPL last year, we decided to make it a regular thing! On a quarterly basis, we’ll review the PPL that stood out to us, and share some thoughts on how well it was (or wasn’t) embedded in the drama. In this PPL Round-up, we’ve got everything from emperors who vacuum, to women who crush on Subway cashiers.

 
Exercising the right to vacuum

Product: Dyson vacuums
Saturation: 8/10
Desirability: Pretty strong, actually

If there’s one bit of PPL that stood out in show after show, it was the Dyson vacuum. Clearly, it is essential for everyone from emperors to editors to not only own, but regularly operate, a Dyson vacuum. And there’s nothing lackluster about this vacuuming experience, either. It’s performed with zeal and passion every time.

In An Empress’s Dignity, Empress Sunny (Jang Nara), was once stripped of all the benefits of living in the Imperial Palace. She was forced to do her own laundry and hang it to dry in her chamber, cook her own ramen on a hot plate, and, of course, vacuum herself. This was actually a pretty decent way to incorporate a full-fledged vacuuming session in the drama in a way that fit the story.

Later in the drama, when the emperor (Shin Sung-rok) is busy trying to win back the heart of the Empress, he actually does her cleaning for her, granting the Dyson an encore appearance in the drama.

Turns out cleaning scenes can be pretty well-embedded into a drama. In Romance is a Bonus Book, cohabitant cuties played by Lee Jong-seok and Lee Na-young designated a weekend for some spring cleaning. The heroine might have bolted, but don’t worry — we get to enjoy Lee Jong-seok cleaning. And vacuuming, for quite an extended scene. The male second lead/book designer (Wie Ha-joon) also does some important vacuuming in his apartment, much to his dog’s dismay. I’m beginning to see a theme here. Forget about the wrist grabs — give us a man who vacuums, and we’re sold. And so is the vacuum.

 
Coffee is crucial

Product: Maxim Gold instant coffee; W Tea
Saturation: 7/10
Desirability: Not gonna lie, I want to try the tea

In the universe of PPL, much of it is of the drinkable variety. Instant coffee (particularly by Maxim) has been advertised for a long while, but every now and then with renewed vigor.

One of my favorite examples of this comes from the campiness that was An Empress’s Dignity. First we had the now-famous taste test scene, where the emperor sits in his epic chair at his epic desk and swigs back some Maxim Gold to see what all the fuss is about. This scene was brilliant, from the straight shot on Shin Sung-rok, to his fantastic theatricality. In fact, he found it hilarious himself (IRL), and he even posted about it on his personal Instagram feed saying, “Instant coffee, I love you.”

Perhaps because that scene became iconic in the drama, the instant coffee PPL makes an appearance several more times. The most ridiculous of these is when the emperor wakes up after plunging himself off a cliff and the first words he utters as he jerks back to consciousness, surrounded by thugs? “Do you have any instant coffee?”

Coffee is crucial in dramaland and in PPL (in real life too, let’s face it), but healthful non-caffeinated drinks also have an important role. We saw Coca Cola’s W Tea in gobs of dramas last year, and when it started appearing again more recently, I kind of felt like I was greeting an old friend. “W Tea!” I shouted when Yoo Inna chugged some in Reach of Sincerity. Or, tried to chug it. It helps when you take the cap off. This cute moment not only effectively drew attention to the product, but built up the playfulness between the leads, so I’d call that a PPL win.

 
Subway returns in full force, dramaland weeps collectively

Product: Anything they sell with a label on it
Saturation: 10/10
Desirability: Zero

The dreaded Subway returns. I feel like I jinxed it back in December when I expressed that the Subway Invasion had somewhat subsided. Alas, I was wrong.

While it felt like Subway was everywhere again in the worst way possible, I came across one instance in Reach of Sincerity where I thought it was done fabulously. Lawyer Dan (Park Kyung-hye) is famous for falling in love with a new specimen every few days. When she’s crushing on one of the workers at her local Subway, she gussies up and goes in to order her sandwich. Not only is she humiliated by him saying she looks like his grandmother, but Lawyer Choi (Shim Hyung-tak) is smirking in the corner, enjoying her embarrassment more than he is his sandwich.

And for the unfabulous use of Subway and their food fare, I’m thinking of dramas like Romance is a Bonus Book, which represented the banal and forced placement that we have all come to dread. Our characters are working late and are hungry, or they need to go on a happy lunch date, or anything in between. Next thing you know, they are entering their local Subway. And we get the widest shot in the entire drama at this moment, because even if we can’t tell that’s our characters because they’re so tiny — hey, at least we can tell they are walking into a bright and shiny Subway.

 
Honorable mentions

Just when you thought it was safe, the Transformer-esque massage chair made its reappearance in dramaland. An Empress’s Dignity (this drama really had some great PPL) had a humorous way of incorporating it into the plot. Princess So-jin (Lee Hee-jin) frequently shoved people into it when they visited her chamber, so they could a) relax and talk about how wonderful it was at massage, and b) get some important dialogue accomplished as well.

And because it wouldn’t be a feature on PPL without some mention of makeup or skincare products, my favorite of these was when someone at Gyeoroo Publishing, in Romance is a Bonus Book, was given a huge gift box of Sum:37 products. Lee Jong-seok is the spokesperson for this LG-owned cosmetics line, but in the drama all of the editors were able to sample it together, gushing about how moisturizing the products were.

Most of the PPL I encountered and discussed here I actually really enjoyed (outside of the green menace, that is) — and I couldn’t always say that about PPL. However, ever since I started paying more attention to these product placement moments, and the varying level of skill with which they get sandwiched into dramas, the more I enjoyed them.

The above instances don’t represent every drama, or every instance of PPL, but these were some of the moments that stood out to me over the last several weeks of drama watching. What were some of yours?

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The one that hit me with the laughs was the Chanel products in Reach of Sincerity. The fact that Lee Dong wook had to keep a straight face while product placing in a mirror seriously was the best thing about that show. He not only did it with the lip balm put also the cologne.

This is what sucks about the Dyson PPL, it is not an affordable one. Those things are moderate to hella expensive and in some cases some characters on shows should not have the latest model of one in their homes. For real.

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Yes!!! the lip balm moment was awesome!

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The hand held Dyson hair dryers that have been used as ppl are very cool and pricey. It seems like they start at around $400 USD.

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I want that Dyson vacuum. Just curiosity, how much it costs? I can't probably afford it though.

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Low end starting at $300 US.

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Dyson products are SO expensive. I'm trying to invest in a fan and... ugh. $200 bare minimum.

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I was at a hotel that had one, yeah, those fans are awesome. And yeah, I would have to sell a organ to get a good one.

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Dyson has an ebay store where they sell their refurbished products, I got my hairdryer from there. Also, they often have coupons that you can combine, so you can get one for around $160.

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Oh wow thank you! I’ll check it out

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Toreta water!
Also the jewelry!
I really want the Dyson but not sure I can afford it right now TT

One of the places where they really used the PPL well as a part of the story was in Because this is my first life: where she was a PPL writer and in Alhambra where the PPL was a way for the users to gain points/washroom access lol

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Never seen Because this is my first life, but it the plot sounds like a good excuse to include PPL without too much annoyance. Reach of Sincerity also handled the PPL really well. Yoo In-na basically repeated her commercials as an actress as a way to hide some real PPL. It was too cute!

Almost every drama has a standard PPL, except for sageuks, and most people forget about it...-> CARS! They're seriously everywhere on dramaland, it must be an expensive PPL.

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Yeah! Yoo In Na acting out the PPL and LDW's expressions were gold!

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*whispers* Watch Because This Life is Our First... one of the very first scenes is one of the most hilarious PPL parodies ever written.

*runs away*

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The subway PPL in the ‘Ghost Detective’ was quite cool! And so was the Breitling watch in MoTA
If only those Dyson’s didn’t need a giant charging station set up I may have succumbed to it :)

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I always hated the Subway PPL, it always felt unnatural and unrealistic. But, the one from Reach of Sincerity was one of the best IMO. Too bad it was once in a lifetime. (I still remember how suffocating it was to see Subway almost every scene in 20th Century Boy and Girl...).

The vacuum, dear vacuum...I want one for myself actually!!! He is Psychometric also showed the main lead vacuuming his own appartment before the female lead arrived.

The skin products for man were memorable for me in Reach of Sincerity, especially the lip balm, too precious!

Anyone noticed the apps used in recent dramas? Digital PPL!!! I think He is Psychometric showed one scene about that.

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Last episode of Her Private Life showed a brand of watches that Park Min-young was having doubts in choosing a watch to go with her outfit. It was an obvious PPL! But, I couldn't see what brand it was though...

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And in Secretary Kim she was either cleaning her face or putting on makeup and all you saw was label.

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Rosemont i think.

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Lee Dong Wook is the model for Zigbang, an app used for apartment hunting (I'm using it right now! and seeing his face as I open it makes the process better hahaha)

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Tinder briefly showed up in Ep. 10 of Reach of Sincerity but, oddly, it was presented as a "friendship" app by the character showing the app.

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Ahhh Subway, even if I didn't already find their food disgusting, the sheer amount of it in dramas would have stopped me from going.

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I like their food, it's not the greatest but it's not the worst. But the Subway PPL always looks to me like their sandwiches are made of cardboard and plastic. And nobody ever takes more than one bite of it. If they want people to buy it, they should make it look more appealing.

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real life Subway looks much worse. They really are doing the best they can with it.

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When actors say something like: "Mmm... it's good!" and others nod, it seems really forced. Probably it's the only not-fun PPL, the one I roll my eyes on.

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For me Papa John’s is actually worse in reality than Subway. I watched its Chief Kim and wonder how they made it looks so good to eat. I even consider trying the bread stick for the second time.

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Oh girl, they are both equally disgusting to me. It's like kdrama's took the worst American fast food and put it in their dramas. Ick, nast. I don't eat at either of them even if I am desperate.

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Subway PPL doesn't necessarily make me want to eat at Subway, but eating at Subway certainly makes me wish that I was eating kimbap instead (or ramyun, tteokbokki, bibimbap, naengmyeon, kimchijigae, Korean fried chicken, dot dot dot.)

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We just need a Korean subway chain.

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OMG yes @mayhemf! Bulgogi with onions on fresh crisp-crusted baguette sounds pretty good right now!

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Golly that sounds good.

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I still cannot wrap my head around the Subway PPL in Wok of Love where the glorious Chinese food cooked by chefs made Subway look exactly as it was, cheap fast food. Worst marketing move.

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That one was a stand out.

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I could never understand why a world class chef trying to impress the female lead whom he knows loves his cooking would even think about taking her after work to a Subway.

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And I could never understand why a coffee franchise would want to be associated with work place harassment as in Pretty Noona/Something in the Rain.

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Has anyone noticed all the Tider PPL in dramas lately? I know RIABB and TYH had it recently. They funny thing is they sell it like its a 'friendship app'.

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I appreciated and loved all the PPL featured in the last empress. The show being its ridiculous-self, it did not feel out of place to have such random over the top PPL scenes. It just added to the comedy.

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It was well integrated with just the right touch of wacky over the top that fit with the show's aesthetic.

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What about the Dyson hair dryer?! I've been wanting one before it started appearing in all the dramas. It didn't help that it was on the screen of every drama I watched. I couldn't afford one for years but having that dryer in every drama I watched made me want it all the more.

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My favourite is Royal Hotness coffee PPL in The Last Empress. Loved it! In fact all the PPL in TLE was tailored to suit the over the top story line. It was fun and hilarious to watch. The scenes with the azure bracelet was amazing too, from Sunny giving it to Hyuk, to her bracelet snapping from a single tear drop, to Hyuk running around trying to find his and lastly to Hyuk breaking his bracelet. It serves the storyline in an entertaining way. I nearly bought an azure bracelet recently, I was really tempted. hahahaha 🤣

But for subway, I think Memories of Alhambra deserves a mention. They incorporated it into the game, eat subway to gain health points.

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And...i really liked the last memory of Hyuk in The Last Empress was him drinking coffee in his epic chair before dissappearing. How apt was it for him to be remembered with coffee after all the coffee PPL done in TLE. Hahaha

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Funny thing about the Maxim instant coffee packets. Made me go out and buy Starbucks instant coffee packets - and I always think of Last Empress when I use them.

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Lol! Coffee PPL in TLE goes beyond brand. Now I see any coffee brand and still be reminded of Emperor 🤣.

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I loved TLE's PPL, especially the Maxim coffee! I've always interested in trying in out since it has been featured several times in My Ajusshi (cause come on, that's the only thing that Ji An consistently eats).

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It was also big in Shopping King Louis.

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Yes, in fact Louis was literally addicted to the coffee. Throughout the drama references to it kept appearing. The scene at the sauna where he spent all his lunch money on about 10 little cups of the stuff was great.

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Thanks for this uplifting article - made my day (yes, pathetic, huh). But really, an enjoyable read.
Best drama ppl imo (they need an award category for this): Because This Is My First Life and The Last Empress (kudos to instant coffee packets though it only made me go out and buy Starbucks instant coffee packets). Honorable mention: Subway in Reach of Sincerity, but truthfully I only remember the young kid telling her she reminded him of his grandma (I didn't remember it was Subway until someone above mentioned it).
WORSE drama PPL: Any Subway other than above mentioned. Worse Subway ppl in a specific drama: Big Man (Kang Ji hwan) where Jung So Min was relegated to nothing but a ppl for Subway the entire second half of the drama. She got a job there and had no scenes other than working at Subway. I'll never forgive Big Man for that.

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Vacuums are my favorite PPL.

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That vacuum is the (not so) secret desire of almost all of us, I fear ':)

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i honestly want to try Quiznos - after watching My father is strange & i'm not a robot.

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Did you see Terius Behind Me? Quiznos fully saturated the first half of that series. In Ep. 12, one of the children is so constipated that they took her to the ER. Was it from eating too much Quiznos? The ER doc even said said, "change her eating habits at home." I wondered if the show was trolling their own sponsor!

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Quiznos in dramas looks so much more appetizing than the Subway.

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I'm so sick of Subway PPL . The ones that stood out to me lately are the one in Memories of the Alhambra (might as well give back some health points to the players), and the one in Fiery Priest (our detective had a stomachache - twice, I think?- while eating there. 'ha !)
But yeah, so tired of them.

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Forgot to mention:
- Maxim coffee PPL makes me think of Shopping King Louie !
- Obvious /non original PPL : any of those energy / ginseng drinks

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Out of all of these PPLs, I definitely join the chorus of viewers and say no to Subway. #gross
Maxim coffee had at some point, probably after watching Stranger, been in my Amazon cart for weeks but I ultimately didn't buy it because it was surprisingly pricy for instant coffee.

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That tsundere chaebol might be a jerk but I'll bet you a Subway sammich he has an enviable dream closet. K-drama high-end closets always makes my heart race. It's not exactly PPL but definitely aspirational. So what makes me sigh with desire?
• Specialized drawers for watches
• Clothes hung on identical hangers, organized by type, color, and length
• Hanging clothes don't touch
• Folded clothes perfectly stacked

I'm fascinated by the instant coffee PPL in k-dramas. I'm married to a coffee drinker but don't touch the stuff myself. I live in a small city that kind of fetishizes fresh-ground coffee. My office mates have electric gooseneck tea kettles and pour-over coffee stations by their computers. Kuerig once came downtown to give away free coffee makers to people trading in their old machines. The line went for two blocks!

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Just when I thought I had got over Hyuk, along comes this brilliant article, and @missvictrix, you're fast becoming my favourite writer on DB, because you keep writing about Hyuk and posting those beautiful pics of him. Ah, the memories make me weep...Hyuk sniffing coffee, inhaling its aroma with closed eyes, Hyuk vacuuming with that silly smile on his face. Hyuk, will I ever forget thee?

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*finger heart*

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I admit I searched Maxim coffee on Amazon, even if I live in a city where fresh coffee is a cult.
One time my aunt saw me having instant coffee (not Maxim), and she looked at me as I was committing a crime!

When I watched Because this is my first life, I was too naive to know about PPL, but I remember the main lead going to work even during his free time to sit on that fabulous chair you wrote about (and at the end, he bought one for his home). And when he gave ginseng drink to Ji-ho while she was busy writing her drama, I found him really cute.

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I also scoured Amazon for Maxim coffee right after watching Shopping King Louis and a couple of other dramas a while back. Never actually managed to get hold of it.

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Okay, Possessed. I don't know what vitamin water/energy drink those detectives are always consuming, but they can't seem to do their jobs (e.g. stakeouts, desk work, etc) with cracking open a bottle! Lately I've been seeing that brand of beverage in several other dramas too.

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That vacuum is a dream of mine but the cost is just crazy.
When I went to visit Korea I did the massage chair experience and it hurts like hell (ahahahah). Plus I had most of the drinks featured in the dramas...sugar overload but I was a happy beanie.

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I've noticed a lot more PPL in variety shows, with the MCs talking about and/or using the products (e.g., bikes, moisturizers, etc.). While it's not a big deal, it is a good reminder that "unscripted" shows actually follow a script.

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Is it just me, or is there a suspicious amount of vacuum time in "the return of Superman" as well? Or is my PPL sensor too sensitive?

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