[PPL Round-up] That old friend, PPL
It’s been a busy, PPL-y start to the year of 2020 dramas. I don’t know about you, but I feel like I saw a regular army of product placement wherever I turned. And not only was it terribly consistent, but it was terribly familiar too.
In our last PPL round-up we saw PPL embedded as a way to regulate in-drama stress and tension. In this round-up, though, there’s nothing too flashy — or unique. Instead, I saw many products that I’ve seen before: so many coffees drunk, so many rooms vacuumed, and so many restaurants eaten at, that they all feel like old friends at this point. So, rather than eye roll at the PPL scenes the last few months, it’s felt more like waving to a friend on the other side of the street. Hello, there, Dyson! How are you today?
Speaking of Dyson
Product: Dyson’s gorgeous cordless vacuum
Desirability: I can’t hold back much longer
Is the PPL really working? Is the overexposure to happily vacuuming characters finally getting to me? Or is it because I’m starting to see this vacuum IRL too, like in Target of all places, and at a friend’s house. Either way, it’s becoming less of a drama giggle, and more of a top-of-the-wishlist type situation. Is it normal to want to save up for a vacuum?
In dramaland of late, there’s been no stopping the vacuuming. In Crash Landing on You, when Sohn Ye-jin’s heroine was finally back to South Korea, we got some extended footage of her happily vacuuming her palace-like apartment.
And because the Ducklings were there too, why not use their shock and awe to further elevate the appearance of the Dyson? The Ducklings’ reactions to everyday South Korean life was pretty hilarious, but the wow factor around the Dyson? Accurate.
Lest the vacuuming be left to chaebol heiresses alone, we also saw some on-point cordless Dyson vacuuming happen in Psychopath Diary, where the act of vacuuming was as good for removing crime scene evidence as it was for burning off steam at home (shout out to Yoon Shi-yoon’s vacuuming skills).
Even AI programmers and their girl next door crushes need to vacuum — so we also saw the Dyson at work in the apartment of Yoon Hyun-min’s character in My Holo Love. For a device so universal, I sure wish the price was more affordable.
Chicken, chicken, and more chicken
Product: BBQ Olive Chicken
Desirability: I’ll pass, but I’m not saying they don’t make it look good
Heading back to our Ducklings and Crash Landing on You for more product placement is pretty easy — this crew managed to get in a load of (hilarious) PPL in the drama’s ending episodes. BBQ Olive Chicken was a touchpoint throughout the drama, but the North Korean soldiers and their hearty appetites and sincere awe sure brought that fried chicken to life.
Check out how many times the brand name/logo appears in this scene (above). It’s actually pretty impressive. For some super loud PPL, I have to hand it to Olive Chicken. Not only were our soldiers shown craving, munching, and devouring their fried chicken multiple times, but they fit it into their collective characterization as a) hungry soldiers b) really hungry soldiers and c) in shock over the lifestyle in Seoul.
That same chicken was also the chicken of celebration and unity, when all our characters got together to cheer as one for their country. All chicken aside, this was really sweet.
And now it’s time for the subs (no, not that kind)
Desirability: Never. Ever.
It just wouldn’t be right for the so-called green menace not to appear in dramaland. Subway has long been notorious as one of the loudest, most ubiquitous, and truly disruptive bits of PPL around. And they did it again.
There was a lot of fast food PPL in Crash Landing on You, which is also where we saw the best (worst?) of Subway recently. From happy munching, to gratuitous sandwich cleavage, to soft drinks galore, Subway was back in a big way.
Conveniently huge store front on the street our characters walk on? Delightful place for a midday meal with colleagues? Wonderfully available takeout for assistants and bodyguards like Hyun Bin? Subways says: yes.
Let’s wash it down with some coffee
Product: Nepresso and Nescafe coffee machines and accoutrements
Desirability: I’ll never turn down a coffee, especially if Joo Ji-hoon is making them
It wouldn’t be a proper PPL round-up without a look at our favorite beverage. It’s funny that lately, Maxim and its instant coffee goodness seems to be taking a backseat to more “sophisticated” coffees like the coffee and espresso machines from Nescafe and Nepresso.
As a coffee nerd, daily drinker of espresso drinks, and owner of one of these very machines, I get a real kick out of seeing espresso a’brewing in the law offices of Song & Kim in Hyena. Our heroine, played by Kim Hye-soo, sure made her Nespresso latte look appealing.
But then again, I never mind coffee PPL. It either makes me want coffee, or makes me want coffee. Of course, there are different levels of this.
There’s the un-PPL glory of Seo Kang-joon making his beautiful Chemex brew (not pictured) — and then there’s the bang-you-over-the-head PPL for the coffee chain Angel-in-us, like we saw in Crash Landing on You. All coffee is welcome. But not all coffee is equal.
When beer makes a surprising PPL appearance
Product: Hite beer
Desirability: Holo makes it look pretty staggering
It’s interesting that for all the bottles of soju drunk during a drama (that would make for some good trivia, huh?), there’s very little PPL around beer, comparatively. Maybe that’s why Hite’s product placement in My Holo Love stood out to me.
I have to say I’m not much of a beer connoisseur, but they do tell me that Hite’s beer is pretty… run of the mill? Well, I like it, and so did Go Sung-hee. The loneliness and isolation of her character and illness was illustrated to us by the sad crackings open of beer cans.
But when the AI Holo enters her life, she gains a drinking buddy, a companion, and so much more. Their little scenes together were actually quite adorable. And if Holo’s experience drinking (or even fake-drinking) beer isn’t just about the best and most exaggerated PPL around, I don’t know what is.
A forest of electronics
Product: Everything with a plug
Desirability: Depends which one we’re talking about
Even though Forest was supposed to be about a mystical and possibly magical forest, what we got instead (in addition to a nonsensical plot, of course) was electronics.
Forest used its forest of electronics to point out the dissonance between hero Park Hae-jin’s posh city life in Seoul, and the new one he was encountering in… the forest.
A special PPL shout-out goes to the wireless speakers that were responsible for so much watering can singing, and shirtless mayhem. If this drama taught us anything, it’s that you need to be careful where you blast your music.
And now we get to the sweets
Product: Godiva and Hershey’s Kit Kat chocolate
Desirability: After vacuums and coffee, chocolate is my third weakness
Finally, chocolate reaches dramaland. Chocolate has been there, surely (shout out to Lee Soo-kyung’s desk drawer of chocolate in Let’s Eat), but now it’s here in rare PPL form.
A drama named Chocolate has to have some chocolate in it, right? And really, what better avenue for some pretty thematic PPL than to have chocolate product placement? Well, Godiva stepped up to the plate and delivered. Chocolate. Lots of chocolate. But in addition to PPL, it also became a metaphor in the drama, and something of a comfort to the heroine played by Ha Ji-won. And I don’t know about you, but I agree.
The refuge of chocolate as a sweet treat was also given a pretty funny moment in Crash Landing on You, where this time Hershey’s Kit Kat took the stage. When in Switzerland… go into a tacky gift shop and buy Kit Kats? I guess.
I might have chosen a different forum in which to purchase my chocolate, but the Crash Landing on You epilogues with both Sohn Ye-jin and Seo Ji-hye’s characters “eating their feelings” with some chocolate bars sure were funny. “It improves your mood when you’re angry or depressed,” shared our heroine. Exactly.
Product: Laneige, Sooryehan, Vanau, Manyo Factory
Desirability: Just tell me how I can get my skin to look like that
If there’s an actress with a contract as a model/spokesperson for a cosmetics or skincare company, there’s a 100% chance that said products will appear in their latest drama. These scenes of beauty rituals, skincare, and self-care, are usually loud and obvious (and even a little gratuitous), but sometimes a drama just hits it right.
In the collection of recent dramas, PPL giant Crash Landing on You did their skincare PPL integration best. And why? Because it was written in perfectly to go along with the heroine’s personality.
The “picky princess” was pretty darn picky when it came to her skincare, and we saw her use a nice Manyo Factory ampoule, among other items. And later, when back in Seoul, she restored her skin to its proper youthful condition with the help of the Vanau facial toning device.
Less thoughtful skincare integrations came from Romantic Doctor Teacher Kim 2 and I’ll Find You on a Beautiful Day. In the former, it was guaranteed that Lee Sung-kyung would give a few moments to Laneige, for whom she’s been the model for a few years, and very successfully. So, she had some abrupt skincare moments — but we also caught Laneige products in her locker, pocket, and more. Because that’s what you do.
I’ll Find You on a Beautiful Day is interesting in being relatively PPL free (so far — and I hope I didn’t just jinx us with a forthcoming scene wherein Subway sandwiches are devoured by the book club, ugh!). But, that being said, Park Min-young is representing LG’s pricey skincare line Sooryehan. So, she has to have some beauty moments while preparing for work, and we’re treated to shots of her dressing table, and her beauty regime. (Park Min-young is also responsible for some jewelry PPL in this drama, but for me, jewelry PPL is probably some of the most boring around, so I usually ignore it, forcibly.)
As usual, I like to wrap up with some honorable mention PPL moments — whether they win the randomness award, the Most Hated award, or a moment of audible cringing. In this round-up, though, the honorable mention is for a relative newbie on the PPL scene: Auntie Anne’s.
I don’t recall seeing much Auntie Anne’s around dramaland, so when they popped up in Hyena, it was pretty much the strangest place to see it. Haute coffee? Works. Luxury cars? Makes sense. But soft pretzels and cinnamon sticks? I’m confused.
However, the pretzels are on the loose. We saw our heroine and her assistant enjoying them in her posh office, and later, our hero (played by Joo Ji-hoon) went to an actual Auntie Anne’s sit-down store to eat with his colleague! This floored me.
Where I come from, I’m used to Auntie Anne’s as the wafting goodness you only find in the local mall, and can smell from a good ten storefronts down. And, sadly, it has always smelled better than it tastes. But if Joo Ji-hoon wanted to go there? Count me in. In fact, I’m already sitting there waiting.
Until next time
And that, my friends, is all the PPL fit to print from the last few months of dramaland. Well, I’m sure there’s loads more actually, but one cannot be in all dramas at once. So, this is the PPL that I found in the shows I’ve watched.
Product placement continues to range from either that hilariously incongruous moment you know is pure advertising, to the slick and subtle presence of a product that burrows into your brain. I find PPL to be a fun part of adventuring in dramaland, and as ever, I look forward to what lies ahead for us, and what the drama gods think we need to buy. Or eat.
- South Korean heiress Sohn Ye-jin meets North Korean soldier Hyun Bin in Crash Landing on You
- I’ll Find You on a Beautiful Day: Episode 1
- My Holo Love (Series review)
- Premiere Watch: Psychopath Diary
- Romantic Doctor Teacher Kim 2: Episodes 1-2 (Review)
- Kim Hye-soo, Joo Ji-hoon are on the prowl in new character teasers for SBS’s Hyena