According to recent reports, almost half of the production costs for KBS‘s recent hit drama “Producer” is being covered by advertising within the show. The demand among advertisers for screen time is largely attributed to the star power of the show’s leads, Kim Soo Hyun, Gong Hyo Jin, IU, and Cha Tae Hyun.

However, the show has come under fire for what some describe as distracting and excessive product placement. An editorial in the newspaper Ilgan Sports from May 24 exemplifies some of the recent criticism.

“There’s so much obvious product placement that it’s difficult to tell if it’s a drama or an 80-minute-long commercial,” says the article. “The problem is that it’s so awkwardly done. Compared to the former tvN drama ‘Misaeng,’ which was well received by viewers because its product placement seemed natural and didn’t affect the show’s flow, ‘Producer”s product placement is far too blatant.”

The writer goes on to list instances in the latest episode of “Producer” in which the product placement was disruptive to the viewing experience.

“Tak Ye Jin (played by Gong Hyo Jin) carries a large box that’s stamped in large letters with the name of an online store,” the writer points out. “Then she tells Baek Seung Chan (Kim Soo Hyun) that a certain vitamin is a good pick-me-up. The camera also rests for over a second on the hand of Cindy (IU)’s manager (Choi Kwon) as he runs his finger along the packaging on a dessert.”

“Of course, since top stars like Kim Soo Hyun and Gong Hyo Jin are in the show, the producers have to use some product placement,” concedes the author. “But it’s their job to find a way to solve these issues.”

Included in the article are comments by an advertising agent, who says that product placement is increasingly common in dramas these days, and that it’s something that those in the industry are concerned about as well. “When it seems unnatural, it can lead to a backlash from the public,” they say. “So advertisers don’t want to see products popping up a lot in a way that seems ridiculous.”

The current rules about product placement on television in Korea state that brand names or products can only appear in 5 percent of each program. Also, each product can only be shown for 30 seconds in total, and the object or name has to be a quarter of the size of the whole frame.

Do you find the product placement in “Producer” distracting?

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