Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Bumping into Ricky Martin in Korea

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery right? Well in Korea imitation is sometimes seen in many places. On signs, posters, logos, shops etc etc. There are certain things Korea likes to 'use' in order to aid a business - for example, fried chicken stores are pretty good at copying other peoples ideas for logos or even company names with a slight spelling change. When I go to Costco I sometimes get their pizza, and the other day another pizza company posted a flier on my apartment door. Their name was CostCut and the packaging/logo design was indistinguishable from Costco. For many a foreigner there is some kind of pleasure to be drawn out of seeing the latest example of 'replication'. Here's what I found whilst stumbling around Homeplus one evening last week.

The picture is not fantastic but a closer look (clicking on it) shows you that the name of the company is Ricky Martin, well RickEy Martin. Unless said Mr. Martin has joined the fast food business I firmly doubt that this has his legal endorsement. Regardless, being associated with a 'star' is seemingly essential to the success of many a company out here. So many fast food chains send out fliers to apartments with semi famous people plastered all over the cover in some fake excitable pose. Turn on the TV and you can sometimes struggle to see a commercial with someone who isn't famous. They love to use pop stars to promote many goods. Of course this is not necessarily a trend unique to Korea. It's true that every country uses it's famous people to sell products and it's always funny to see Woody Allen or Sean Connery totter of to Japan to collect their millions for selling whiskey. But in Korea it just sometimes seems like they go the extra mile with 'celebrities'. I wonder what these celebrities actually make from the endorsements.

So what is RickEy Martin selling? It's squid - a Korean favourite of many a native here. If you can read the Korean alphabet (Hangul) you can see that you can order a Ricky (3,000 ₩) a Martin (3,000 ₩) or a Ricky Martin (5,000 ₩). Tempting prices even for this squid hating Englishman. God bless you Korea and your very relaxed/non-existent copyright laws! A likely explanation for Rickey Martin is it's some kind of cartoon character being used to peddle the food but it's a bit cheeky eh.

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