Subway's Cringey (but brilliant) Korean Comeback

Subway’s Korean Comeback, Explained
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Subway has somehow taken over K-Dramas with some very on-the-nose product placement. I looked into it and discovered a pretty fascinating story about media, money, and foot-long sandwiches.

Big thank you to Seung-Chul Yoo, Ph.D.
Professor of Communication & Media at Ewha Womans University

And another big thank you to Professor CedarBough Saeji, Assistant Professor of Korean and East Asian Studies, Pusan National University


06:16 Terrestrial broadcasters have been prohibited from such advertising since 1973 for the sake of viewer rights.

06:32 Broadcasting Act 방송법 시행령

07:27 Product Placement (PPL) advertisement has been legislated in Korea since 2010 according to “The Effect of Product Placement Advertisement Legalization on Firms’ Sales Growth: Evidence in Korea”

12:18 Great reporting by the New York Times on this topic

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Johnny Harris is a filmmaker and journalist. He currently is based in Washington, DC, reporting on interesting trends and stories domestically and around the globe. Johnny’s visual style blends motion graphics with cinematic videography to create content that explains complex issues in relatable ways. He holds a BA in international relations from Brigham Young University and an MA in international peace and conflict resolution from American University.

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Comment (46)

  1. "I'm on a plane and felt a desire to randomly make a video about a subject I just learned about". And then you turn it into another can't-stop-watching edit in just a few days. Geez you and your team are good 👏

  2. The biggest thing Subway has done to get me interested is that Milad guy. What's weird is, they seem to be really focused on marketing and their aesthetic, but I feel like their product and service are getting worse. Now they've got a line of sandwiches you're not supposed to modify unless you pay extra. Like, what? Customization is what it means to be "The Subway of ____". If I wanted it Mike's Way, I wouldn't be at Subway.

  3. Kinda scary how the whole world wants to emulate America when our culture is entrenched in greed/materialism & image.

  4. Whaaat? "andere Menschen denken"!!! I have the same sign in my room haha 😄
    Miss Saeji apparently loves theaters in Berlin

  5. I like how this korean guy talks about product placement and he got coca cola can on the desk with logo facing camera 🙂

  6. I'm screaming at how they made the offering by sticking a fork and knife in the sandwich in the middle of a Subway. I've been thinking about it all day 😂🤣😂

  7. Nothing wrong in product placement, or a advertisment baked around the story, actually its talent to talour the product placement.

  8. Why are you filming and explaining while running through the streets? Just sit down and talk like you actually care and not like you're trying to get a cab.

  9. As a European i never really hated subway its an okay place to get lunch thats it. Still miles better then MacDonald's tho i don't understand how that got so wide spread.

  10. Are you in seoul to cover NK’s hidden tunnels? Or something else? I’m very curious the REAL reason why you’re there!

  11. I've lived in Korea for 12 years. There wasn't a single Subway in my city in all that time and two have opened in the last six months. It's working.

  12. I rather like this kind of ads vs to U.S. made ads for products that are super cringe that is almost designed for you to grab anti-ad e.a. "YT Premium" just to get away from it (or an adblocker).

  13. Best fast food chain for me! But I never tried American so I can't say anything, but Australian ones are A MA ZING! (Also went to couple of European ones when I travelled to and visited Western European countries… And I must say all of them were really good!)

  14. I hope you didn’t waste that food, because that food is a God given blessing that many people don’t have.

  15. I would have been excited to watch your video with the first name it had. Now I’m only watching it because I saw it’s first name, this one wouldn’t be appealing to me.

  16. Everyone should try Mexican subway the bread quality is way better than American subway. I figured this out on a trip to Mexico City.

  17. I'm watching a video about subway manipulating people through cringey advertising to buy their products. Knowing all this and how manipulative it is….I'm gonna get subway for lunch. Thanks Johnny 😛


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