What better way to promote a new TV show than to scare the living daylights out of unsuspecting passersby?
In a marketing stunt for Korean thriller “Squid Game,” which has become a viral smash hit worldwide, Netflix installed a replica of the giant animatronic doll that appears in episode 1 at the Robinsons Galleria mall in Quezon City, Philippines.
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In the show, hundreds of debt-saddled contestants are mysteriously brought together to compete in children’s games for a huge cash prize — but with literally life-and-death consequences. The first game is “red light, green light,” overseen by the robotic doll, who explains that any contestants whose movement is detected after the light turns red will be “eliminated.” As it’s quickly revealed, that means they will be immediately shot and killed.
The replica doll at the Manila-area mall monitors a crosswalk to catch jaywalkers, chanting the eerie “Red Light, Green Light, 1-2-3” song from the show.
If a pedestrian tries to cross against the “don’t walk” red light, she swivels her head around and flashes LED-red eyes to single out the culprit. Yikes.
Here’s a video tweet from Netflix Philippines showing the creepy 10-foot doll in action:
Better play by the rules because she's always watching. Will you make it past the first round of Squid Game? 🦑 pic.twitter.com/qvTlHddqsr
— Netflix Philippines (@Netflix_PH) September 22, 2021
Since its Sept. 17 premiere, the violent K-drama has taken the world by storm. “Squid Game” has consistently ranked as the No. 1 series titles in countries across the globe, according to Netflix. This week Netflix co-CEO and content chief Ted Sarandos said the show has a very good chance of becoming the streamer’s biggest show ever (and will definitely rank as its most popular non-English original series).
“We did not see that coming, in terms of its global popularity,” Sarandos said Monday at Vox Media’s Code Conference. To date, the most-viewed Netflix original TV show in its first 28 days of release is “Bridgerton.”
The mania for the show appears especially acute in South Korea, where broadband provider SK Broadband on Friday sued Netflix — seeking to recoup higher network costs — over a 24-fold increase in traffic from May 2018 to September 2021, citing in part the success of “Squid Game,” Reuters reported.
Meanwhile, the actual doll created for “Squid Game” was spotted on display — with a missing hand — at the Jincheon Carriage Museum Adventure Village in South Korea’s North Chungcheong Province. But the museum has reportedly since put the doll in storage.
Series creator and director Hwang Dong-hyuk told Variety he first conceived the idea for “Squid Game” in 2008 as a film. But Korean studios passed because of its ultraviolent themes, and he went on to create several hit films before being able to revisit the project about 10 years later.
“When I started [writing ‘Squid Game’], I was in financial straits myself and spent much time in cafes reading comics including ‘Battle Royale’ and ‘Liar Game,'” Hwang said. “I came to wonder how I’d feel if I took part in the games myself. But I found the games too complex, and for my own work focused instead on using kids’ games.”
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