Overwhelming hit of Squid Game attracts HK-style parody & merch

Sweeping across the globe, Netflix announced that the South Korean drama, “Squid Game”, drew 130 million of views since its first release. It has become the most influential and profitable production in Netflix.

According to the their internal statistics, the value of this drama series is predicted to be worth nearly $900 million. The stock price of Netflix has been boosted by 7% after the issue of this TV series.

456 players are listening to the instructions of the games and waiting for Squid Game to start. Photo from Netflix.

“Squid Game” features a group of impoverished people in different ages, suffering from their life with tremendous debt to pay, voluntarily participate in childhood games with cruel mass murder for those who lose in each session. Yet, the winners can gain immense amount of money, up to 45.6 billions of Korean dollars. It successfully displays the extreme wealth disparity and unfairness in the existing capitalist society and many destitute people feel like living in the hell in reality. In the drama, killing people, being murdered to death in the game and living in the real world till death are both suffocating and have no big differences to the players. The competitors in this drama betray and hurt the others just for own survival as well as interest. It ironically reveals the human darkness and inhumanity in the seemingly civilized, modern and metropolitan world.

All contestants are fascinated by the falling amount of cash in the coin box. Photo from Netflix.

In Hong Kong, it has evoked great sympathy for the sarcastic situation described in the drama. After the unprecedentedly violent and intense political discord, the life of many families languishes. The grassroots feel the vulnerability as the lower class while the younger generation holds pessimistic approach to the democratic and political development and plans to immigrate. Majority of them relate the players’ poor situation in the show to their life in Hong Kong and the bloodshed in the game to the violence during the HK protest. These arouse imitation of the characters and parody of the games in the TV series.

Obsession to the costume

Countless admirers bought the clothes with the same designs in “Squid Game” from Taobao or Instagram. Last weekend, a group of “Squid Game” lovers wore the costumes of the staff in “Squid Game” and appeared in Mong Kok, attracting a large number of spectators. Some went to take photos with them and even asked for the purchase methods and prices. The shops which sell these clothes utilize Halloween as the gimmick and encourage people to buy them as outfits on 31st October.

Under this overwhelming heat, numerous merchants take advantage of the trend and immediately apply various elements of the drama in their products or services as a marketing strategy to increase sales.

Squid Night Party

In Lan Kwai Fong, one of the night clubs, C45, designed and organised a Friday party with the theme of “Squid Game” in their own edition last Friday. Those who are interested had to reserve and they can get a Squid Game player’s jacket when they attend the party.ย  The owner decorated the venue with different displays in the drama and all the waiters and waitresses wore the Squid Game staff’s costumes. C45 triumphantly fits their services into “Squid Game” natively and the tickets were sold out quickly.

Parody Video

Another interesting and successful campaign goes to the prominent youtube channel, Manner. Involving the iconic feature of Squid Game into their video production, they filmed a parody naming “The Squid Game in Reality”. One of the actors is dressed up as the electronic giant doll model which appears in the first round of Squid Game.

An electronic doll model acting as the “Curator” and standing at the end of the ground in the first round of game, “Red Light, Green Light”, in the drama. Photo from Netflix.

They preform few games designated in the drama in a local way. In one of the scenes, they replace the Dalgona Honey Comb of the game with powder foundation, which mocks at the fact that boyfriends will be “killed” by their girlfriends if they break their cosmetic products in HK. The association with the drama and its demonstration in HK style bring more audience and his humorous outfit leads to frequent engagement of viewers.

Local-style Squid products

An online bakery lab, Little Sparkzz, offers a cake version of the Dalgona Candy in Squid Game. They put the representative patterns of the TV series on the cake design, receiving considerable number of likes and orders.

Squid Games challenge in Hong Kong

Creative local shops value the timeliness of products to grasp the customers. Moonstone, a comfy cafe in Prince Edward, follows the Squid Game and introduces the Dalgona Candy Challenge to increase engagement. Any customers who visits the restaurant can pay HK$68 to join the game and those who can poke the pattern within 30 minutes will gain coupons with different dining discounts.

Apart from dessert shop, HEA Ice Cream in Sham Shui Po invented the story that mysterious attackers invaded their stores and would stay till Halloween. They have placed two models, which have the same outfit as the staff members in Squid Game, in the store and launched the game of Dalgona Candy naming HEASquidGame for visitors.

There is a strange but imaginative collaboration project – bouldering and Squid Game in Project Climb & Boulder HK. Locating in Kowloon Wan, the boulder field released the latest theme, “Squid Madhouse” for the Halloween climbing party. Climbers can go for bouldering and enjoy myriad of exciting Squid Games on the last day of October.

Hong Kong Airlines also uploaded a post in Facebook in an attempt to maintain their popularity and relevance to the customers. The post shows the photo of Dalgona Honey Comb with the shape of an airplane in a bowl. It is one of the game sessions in “Squid Game” in which competitors have to cut the shape out using a needle without breaking the pattern of the candy. If not, they will lose the game and be shot to death. However, the post didn’t bring much attention and response. Sarcastically, some readers commented that it was too difficult to cut the pattern and the implication of failure of the game and death, then associating it with riding airplane to travel nowadays.

This streaming series has created tonnes of creative Halloween ideas and company products included local components. Tracing the trend and pertinence to the popular culture has become prevalent marketing tactics for many local brands these days, especially to target the young consumers. A lot of trendy and outstanding promotional campaign play a role in generating a trendy image and high rate of interaction, pushing themselves to stand out of the others.

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