[PPL Round-up] A summertime drink-a-thon
It’s that time where we catch up on the PPL that’s been lurking, living, and flashing neons lights in dramaland. Last time we checked in, we had a lot of almond milk, full-contact phone charging, and the essential instant coffee. What kind of PPL did we run into over the last few months?
I’ve always got my PPL sensor on, but it’s funny — the product placement I’ve noticed this past summer has been surprisingly suave. Outside of a few loud moments, the dramas I watched didn’t have a whole lot of hard-to-miss PPL. In fact, sometimes I had to watch pretty carefully to catch all the product placement moments (and it’s a personal rule that if you have to scour the end credits to identify the PPL in the drama you just watched, well then it’s not really PPL, is it?). This summer’s product placement was also unique in that the bulk of it focused on a whole lot of one thing: drinking.
Tea from the South American Sun (or something)
Product: Sun’s Mate Tea (LG)
Desirability: I’m confused by the marketing, but I’d try it
In Class of Lies, everyone from disgraced attorneys, to goody-two-shoes teachers, to Satan’s spawn students, spent their summer drinking a refreshing tea-like beverage. It took a bit of time to suss out what this tea actually was and what it was being marketed as. It’s actually been a lot of fun researching the teas and drinks that are frequently featured in dramas, and the common denominator, regardless of brand, brand family, or type of tea? Health. They’re all marketed and sold as healthy for the body, whether that means detoxifying, slimming, or just plain low calorie goodness.
The tea of choice in Class of Lies was tricky to decode because it’s actually a yerba mate beverage. Yerba mate is a natural stimulant with a caffeine level between that of coffee and tea, and it’s sourced in South America and marketed (everywhere) as an ancient super beverage. Where it gets tricky is that LG’s name for their yerba mate drink is something along the lines of “Sun’s Mate Tea.” My brain can’t help but read “mate,” like a pal, or a pair (whereas it’s actually pronounced ma-teh). To make it even worse, the slogan and label for this tea reads (in English): “Latin Biorhythm Mate. Play! Eat! Drink Mate.” See, now you’re confused too, right?
Various refreshing canned beverages
Sometimes, you run into a drama that’s rather poorly stitched together, and instead of a solid plot, it sometimes feels like scenes of characters talking to each other over drinks, one after the other. Hello, Let Me Hear Your Song. The good thing about this kind of drama is that it offers a lot of opportunities for characters to be refreshed by a beverage, given a beverage, or even forced to open a beverage for an injured love interest.
In Let Me Hear Your Song we discovered some of the most exhaustive drink PPL I’ve witnessed in a while — and with very little product repetition, which we don’t usually see (a direct contrast to the omnipresence of the Sun’s Mate Tea in Class of Lies). In Let Me Hear Your Song, we had Seagram’s sparkling flavored water, several energy drinks, and even some good old-fashioned beer PPL. If dramaland has taught us anything this summer, it’s that a cold beverage is always a good idea. Whether you’re terrorizing a suspected murdered, sussing out a stalker, or enjoying a cold one with your on-again/off-again crush — always have a beverage on hand.
Where has all the coffee gone?
Maybe I watched the wrong dramas the last few months, but there was a staggering lack of instant coffee product placement this summer. Maybe the season is the reason, and that’s why we saw so much more cold, refreshing, tea-like drinks instead of hot coffee PPL? Either way, I learned this: you don’t know how much you love the mix coffee PPL till it’s gone. May the coffee return full force in dramaland this fall — unless the reason it hasn’t been around is because it’s in all of the Beanie Boxes instead? *teeheehee*
Best PPL meta
In this round-up, we might not have a lot of diversity, but we do have some rather good PPL meta. This time it’s a tie between the cheeky PPL mic drop (so to speak) at the end of Class of Lies, and the Jellypo incident in Be Melodramatic.
Class of Lies ended its stroll through Hell School with some hilarious tongue-in-cheek meta, referencing the Sun’s Mate Tea that had been seen throughout the show. Though doubtful it would happen, the show teased a second season, or “continued adventures” of Yoon Kyun-sang and his hacker pal. They appeared for a job interview where they were clearly going undercover for other case-related reasons. Before answering the questions of his interviewers, Yoon Kyun-sang pauses and says first he’ll have a sip of tea, which he opens and guzzles with gusto. It was hands-down hilarious, and having our heroes break the fourth wall (and the tension in the drama) with this kind of humor was a fun way to end a pretty dark drama.
The other great bit of PPL meta was in Be Melodramatic where Han Ji-eun’s actual job is product placement. To the fury of the director, she places the product (Jellypo) right in the shot of a crucial scene. The camera is following the trail of blood leaving the hero, who has just been shot… and BOOM there’s the Jellypo. Han Ji-eun defends her decision, but in the end winds up running away from the set.
I love when dramas draw attention to the PPL elephant in the room, whether they’re being obvious and exaggerated about it, or just opening up conversation around the fact that it’s a real thing, a lucrative advertising avenue, and someone’s actual job. Which, really, can I try doing that?
These were the product placement moments that struck me over the last few months in dramaland. While I was grateful I didn’t run into any Subway, I feel wary of the PPL that lies ahead as we get deeper into our fall dramas. But don’t worry, winter parka PPL is coming soon, and I can’t wait.
- Be Melodramatic: Episode 1
- Premiere Watch: Let Me Hear Your Song, Welcome 2 Life, Be Melodramatic
- Let Me Hear Your Song: Episodes 1-4 Open Thread
- Working moms and casting switches in Melo Suits Me
- Class of Lies: Episodes 1-2 (Review)
- Yoon Kyun-sang goes undercover among the children of Korea’s elite in Class of Lies
- Class of Lies begins with a student’s funeral
- Juggling music and mystery in KBS’s Let Me Hear Your Song