Korean Drama: a brand’s Promised Land


By Anh Nguyen

If you haven’t already acquainted yourself with the power of Korean Dramas, especially for the sake of brands and fashion, set aside some time this weekend to binge watch the most popular series right now and experience it for yourself.

South Korea is among the leaders of the entertainment industry in Asia and the world. Some soap operas made in this country are extremely popular in China, Japan, Southeast Asia and even gain major European followers. With the large audiences they can reach, K-dramas are perfect for brand exposure, whether it is paid product placement or a lucky pick from the stylist. Giants such as Hyundai, Samsung and LG often pay big bucks to feature their products anywhere possible. Hence, it is not uncommon to see an impoverished young female character who lives in a shoebox studio and always finds herself in financial hardship, and the son of a multimillion dollar corporation who falls head over heels for her, use the very same phone as they are both an extravagant new model from LG.

In another scene, the same female character is spotted in an ensemble with each piece costing an average $150. Perhaps the fact that these male and female leads have become style icons especially for the young audiences makes such styling “mistakes” less of a bummer and more of an expectation. The Asian fashion crowd is constantly in search of new trends to follow, and it is fascinating how TV series have become a rich library of references for this large population of young, tech savvy and quick to adapt individuals.

Back in 2014, My Love From Another Star, a sci-fi turned romance soap opera, with its soaring success, set the record sale for an Yves Saint Laurent lipstick. At the time my cousin in Vietnam, like many other young females in Asia pursuing the Rouge Pur Couture No.52, sought for my help in the hope of owning one. I arrived at Neiman Marcus after being greeted with “sold-out” from Sephora, Nordstrom and Bloomingdale’s.  The sales lady did not forget to inform me that demand for the youthful rosy coral color lippy skyrocketed everywhere as “girls were copying the look of a Korean actress,” she put it. While I was lucky enough to take home No.52, other less fortunate customers might have had to resort to bidding on Ebay for one, according to dailymail.co.uk. And the price wasn’t pocket-friendly either: $95, compared to $37 at retail, and with still 29 days left for bidding.

On air since February 2016, the film “Descendant of the Sun” is now a huge hit, and not surprisingly, everything the main actors and actresses wear is ever more desirable. Fashion and K-drama lovers once again set out on a hunt for the White Perforated Leather High-Top Sneakers from Junya Watanabe Comme des Garçons after they were worn by the leading actress in the second episode. The pair went out of stock worldwide just days after the episode was aired. Latecomers now are only greeted with this sad message if they try to look for the pair on lyst.com: “We checked over 476 online retailers and this item is sold out.”

So next time if you want to increase your brand’s popularity and reach new customers, you might want to put your products where those K-drama stylists can see them!


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