Those blocks are typically brimming with voters; Paramount Pictures is there, as is Raleigh Studios, where Netflix rents production space. With most people in Los Angeles still holed up at home, however, the thoroughfare was eerily quiet last Monday at 5:30 p.m. Actual crickets were chirping at Paramount’s closed Bronson Gate, which bore a sign reading, “Per government direction, access to the studio is now restricted.”
Comical at best, absurd at worst?
“The public must be so confused,” Ms. Stone said.
None of the studios or streaming services angling for awards would comment for this article. Campaigning, while commonplace, remains a taboo subject. No film company wants to look as if it is trying to manipulate voters.
It is easy to understand where they are coming from, though.
“Like a political campaign, you have to crest at the right moment,” said Paul Hardart, director of the entertainment, media and technology program at New York University’s Stern School of Business. “You need the maximum exposure at that time. And that’s a hard thing to do. How do you become top of mind at the right time?”
So the swag must go on.
As part of its promotional effort for “Nomadland,” about an impoverished van dweller, Searchlight Pictures sent a bound copy of the screenplay to awards voters. The Hollywood press corps received “Nomadland” wine glasses, a “Nomadland” license plate, “Nomadland” keychains, a “Nomadland” T-shirt and a 5-by-2-foot “Nomadland” windshield sunshade.
To celebrate the film’s Feb. 18 virtual premiere, Searchlight teamed with local small businesses to have a “curated concessions crate” delivered to the homes of invitees. It included artisanal beef jerky, wild berry jam, oranges, pears, dried apricots, dill pickle slices, banana bread, salami (“humanely raised”) and a canister of chocolates.
In an episode of the Korean television show “The K2,” which takes place in a world of fugitives and bodyguards, a man is being treated with a defibrillator when he enters into a dream state. On the fringe of death, he recalls taking a past love to a Subway restaurant and to a park for a picnic, where he gently feeds her a sandwich and soft drink with the Subway logo facing the camera.
The detail is not a narrative quirk. It is a result of South Korea’s broadcasting regulations and the aggressive use of product placement in the country’s shows by Subway, the American sandwich chain famous for its $5 foot-longs.
“People joke, ‘If I had a drink every time Subway popped up, I’d be drunk before the first half is over,’” said Jae-Ha Kim, a journalist in Chicago who reviews Korean dramas. “Everyone here’s like, ‘I never got a Subway sandwich that looked that good, with that much meat.’”
Product placement in TV shows is a reality the world over. But South Korea’s terrestrial stations are prevented from inserting commercial breaks during programming, meaning many Korean companies must be creative about getting their wares in front of viewers. As Korean dramas have become more popular with international audiences, global brands have pushed to be part of the action.
world’s largest fast-food chain by store count since its founding in 1965 in Bridgeport, Conn.
Colin Clark, the country director for Subway in South Korea, said product placements in popular dramas like “Descendants of the Sun” had a positive impact on global sales, specifically citing markets in China, Taiwan and Singapore.
“I swear to you, it was a difference between night and day — before the product placement and after the product placement — the effect it had on the customers,” said Mr. Clark, who declined to provide specific sales figures.
an Irish court ruled is not bread, and its tuna, which a lawsuit claimed is “anything but tuna.”
But on TV, pristinely clean Subway shops pop with bright colors serve as the setting for business meetings, social gossip and dates for beautiful couples. Instead of cookies and tea, elderly Korean TV characters keep freshly wrapped Subway sandwiches at the ready — you never can know when an unexpected guest will drop by and crave an Italian sub.
On the popular Korean drama “Crash Landing on You,” North Korean soldiers and a South Korean businesswoman find common ground through Subway sandwiches.
Product placement in Korean shows began in earnest in 2010, when South Korea’s stringent broadcasting laws eased restrictions on the practice in an effort to increase network revenues and promote Korean goods. In 2018, South Korea’s networks sold $114 million worth of product placement, up 15 percent from the previous year, according to Soobum Lee, a mass communication professor at Incheon National University.
Shows collect an average of about $900,000 from product placements, although 2016’s “Descendants of the Sun” sold triple that amount, Mr. Lee said. It was also criticized by some viewers for excessive product placement.
Other American companies, like Papa John’s Pizza, have used product placements in Korean dramas, but none are as ubiquitous as Subway.
first episode of “Someway” has more than 1.3 million views.
“There’s humor in the advertising we’re doing,” Subway’s Mr. Clark said. “As a brand, if you take yourself too seriously, you’re going to end up always getting into trouble.”
Subway opened its first South Korea location in 1992. Now there are more than 430 Subways in the country, its second-largest footprint in Asia behind China.
To continually appeal to its target demographic of 15- to 25-year-olds, Subway is also becoming more inventive with how it is presented. On the drama “Memories of the Alhambra,” gamers competing in an augmented reality game collected valuable swords and coins by going to Subway.
In real life, newer restaurants with digital menu boards display the chain’s appearances on shows.
Product placement “was a relatively cheap way to get us brand awareness,” said Mr. Clark, who has also overseen collaborations with the K-pop star Kang Daniel and a limited-edition Subway streetwear release with Fila. “It was something the other brands were doing, but weren’t really kind of owning that space the way Subway started doing.”
commercial breaks on terrestrial stations.
Product placement is not likely to disappear, though.
Mr. Clark said that terrestrial advertising was too expensive and that those stations didn’t reach Subway’s desired young customer base, who frequently stream episodes on their phones.
Besides, the practice of product placement has already become a plot point.
On the show “Because This Is My First Life,” the lead character dreams of becoming a television writer. When she lands a job in the industry, her assignment is to jam product placements into the scripts of popular Korean dramas.