With the Seoul Mayor by-elections upcoming, a creative advertisement by Netflix has backfired. Netflix initially ordered a bus advertisement to run a loop for the entire month of March to promote its hit K-Drama, Love Alarm. However, it may potentially face charges from the People’s Party due to an unfortunate coincidence.
The drama tells the tale of how a revolutionary app rings when one is within a radius of someone they like. The function allows people to confess their feelings sincerely to each other. More often than not, these confessions are made public due to the involuntary ringing of the app at any time or space. In accordance with the theme, Netflix set up a bus banner with the words, “Minju-yah, I like you!”
The banner runs on bus number 140, setting off from Dobongsan station, heading to Gangnam while passing by Hyehwa and the Han river. It circulates a huge portion of the Gangbuk and Gangnam area in Seoul.
The issue lies in the fact that there is no character in the drama with the name Minju. Hence, the advertisement cannot be written off as based on a fictional character. By an unfortunate coincidence, Minju in Korean also means democracy, with Minju-dang (The Democratic Party) taking part in the elections as well against the People’s Party. This led to problems in terms of violating the public election act with unregulated advertisement.
According to the producers, they had chosen the name out of 41 suggestions.
Previously, in February, before season two had premiered, we carried out an event by which we would help people write the name of someone they liked on a bus advertisement. So we chose the name out of 41 names and it happened to be Minju, an ordinary woman’s name. We did not take into account the by-elections, and coincidentally it ended up as so.
— Love Alarm representative
A member of the national assembly, Park Dae Chul, has commented that the Central Election Management Committee had launched an investigation against Netflix and requested for the advertisement to be halted immediately. Netflix has agreed to the halt of the advertisement. He suggested that the issue was a coincidence due to creative advertising and was not a purposeful violation of the act.
On the other hand, the issue has not yet been absolved. The People’s Power party has announced that they will be pressing charges against Netflix for the violation of the election act.