James Turnbull's picture

Gender Advertisements: What, boys can drink girly drinks now?

Regularly criticizing food and drink companies for marketing their products so differently to either sex, or even exclusively just to one, then I’m surprised to find I have mixed feelings about the news that one company has actually chosen to stop doing so for a change: Hyundai Pharm (현대약픔), whose Miero Fiber (미에로화이바) “diet drink” for women was ironically the first of its kind in Korea, but for which a new campaign has been launched featuring Lee Joon (이준), a member of boy band MBLAQ (엠블랙), and Kwak Min-jung (곽민정), a figure skater:

제 2의 비라 불리며 초콜릿 복근으로 팬들의 마음을 사로잡고 있는 엠블랙 이준과 밴쿠버 동계올림픽에서 괄목할만한 성장으로 모두를 놀라게 한, 제2의 피겨여왕을 꿈꾸는 피겨스케이팅 선수 곽민정, 이 두 사람이 만난다면 어떤 모습일까?

엠블랙 이준과 곽민정 선수가 기능성 식이섬유 음료의 대표 주자인 현대약품 미에로화이바의 새모델로 발탁됐다.

Called the second Rain (비), and gaining a lot of fans through his chocolate abs, Lee Joon of MBLAQ is with Kwak Min-jung, a figure skater who startled everyone with her remarkable growth as a skater at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, and who dreams of becoming the second figure skating queen [after Kim Yuna (김연아)]. What are they doing meeting together?

James Turnbull's picture

Korean Sociological Image #38: Gendered Marketing


With the exception of some medicines such as painkillers, presumably the majority of things that humans can eat or drink taste exactly the same and have exactly the same physiological effects on both sexes.

So why are so many marketed so differently to both, or even almost exclusively just to one? It’s really quite bizarre:

Already having deeply analyzed Korean examples of both however, and providing possible reasons for the divisions, today’s post is a light one just for the sake of providing a few more recent examples, starting with the opening commercial featuring the girl-group KARA (카라) for Pepero (빼빼로) chocolate sticks. And with 55% of Lotte Confectionery’s (롯데제과) annual sales of them being made around “Pepero Day” every November 11, then one can hardly bemoan the company for looking for ways to encourage consumers to buy them throughout the year. But still, I doubt that Lotte will go so far as to produce similar commercials featuring male groups instead, and especially not with their members pretending to make “V-lines” with the Pepero sticks in them.

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