Recap: Advertising Genius Lee Tae Baek Episode 1

Yay for a slew of new dramas reporting just when I’m in the mood for a recapping change.  I’m still kinda sad School 2013 ended because I could always count on Mon-Tues for my drama fix for the past 2 months and even though I’m thoroughly enjoying FBND now(caught up to the latest episodes over the weekend), it’s not exactly crack to me. School 2013 reminded me why I like jdoramas  – the underdog settings, despite its slightly preachy content. I loved School 2013 even though there were no loveliness and every episode managed to reduce me to tears (or at least little sniffles now and then). I did browse through the latest jdorama list but nothing attracts me (I welcome any recommendations :P), but I guess it’s back to kdramas for me. Heh.

If there is one thing TGS recapping experience taught me, it’s to be brief in my recaps. I’m still upset to have dropped that project, but really I’d rather be recapping something I genuinely like. Advertising Genius Lee Tae Baek seems like a drama with potential and I’m not adverse to any of the leads, so I decided to check this out to see if I’d like it. Workplace drama tends to be boring but I did enjoyed Baby-faced Beauty, so I’m keeping faith that with the advertising industry as its background, they will come up with some impressive material and wow me.

Episode 1
In the opening, a voiceover narrates how advertisement is like air to urbanites – we breath in the ads everyday, through newspapers, ads on buses, radio, flyers, internet, smartphones. To urbanites, ad is money, culture and art. We are introduced to our titular hero, Lee Tae Baek (Jin Goo) who’s attending an interview, for whom advertisement is a dream.

Cut to our second hero, Addie Kang (Jo Hyun-jae) on the plane. An actress recognizes him for a bigshot in the advertising industry from a magazine article and teases him about his name. Addie, as in ad…? Anyhoo, he retorts that her name isn’t much better: Han Byul (Byul= star). Heh. They exchange a couple of biting remarks before he produces a name card that says he’s a Planning Director for Geum San. So he’s the cool and snide kind.

Back to our hero’s interview, it’s a four person group interview and Tae-baek is totally being ignored by the panel of interviewers because of his lack of background. He stands up abruptly and introduces himself. They are impressed with his confidence but wonders about his lack of experience and achievement. Almost everyone present is embarrassed for him but he doesn’t let it bother him. One of the interviewers asks him why he thinks they should pick him. He swipes out this huge lighter: “I’m just an ordinary lighter, but if you open me up, I will give you fireworks ads.” Cue impressed looks and smiles. Suffice to say, he made a favourable impression.

A satisfied Tae baek is on his bike when he receives a call (his co-worker?)requesting his presence asap. They have to put up the GeumSan ad immediately or risk having their contract axed. He speeds up but almost runs over our heroine, Baek Ji Yoon (Park Ha-sun) who’s collecting her dropped plastic bag of drinks.

He does however break one of the bottled drinks, and she actually looks more upset over that than almost gotten killed. He apologizes and she asks him to replace that drink instead if he’s sorry. He says he’s kinda busy and she’s like fine, we’re all busy so let’s each go on our busy way. He’s speechless by her brusque behavior, but is reminded that he’s in a hurry himself as he watches her bustle away.

 Ji yoon is back in her war place of an office where she reports to her Team Leader, Go Ae-ri (Han Chae-young). Go is annoyed that Ji yoon hasn’t got the drink – it’s Representative Lo’s favourite – and sends her away to get another. She reminds Ji yoon about the placing of the ad board and she replies that she’s already reminded the men in charge. Ae ri enters the meeting room which is a hustle of activity as everyone prepares for the all important PT (presentation?).

Turns out Tae baek is in charge of that ad board. Problem is he left the plans at his interview, so they have no idea how to orientate the ad board, which is this huge DaeSung car ad. Never fear, coz he’s got a pretty good idea how it should go. Hah. This should be fun.

The ad board is visible from the meeting room and Ae ri flips to see that it’s hung vertically! Haha. As though the car is driving into the sky. Ae ri warns Ji yoon to get it corrected within 30 minutes or her internship is on the line too.

Addie also sees the ad board from his car and gives a little smile – at least someone is appreciative of a little creativity. He receives a call from papa Kang who tells him to get his ass over to the company asap - he’s late for the presentation for Representative Lo. LOL. I see, virtually everyone is tied to this PT.

Addie remarks casually they are in for a tough time since Lo is well-known for his strict standards and their half-assed proposal (he has been going through the DaeSung proposal in the car) would surely come under fire. Papa Kang is not interested in his observations and facts, he demands that Addie arrive with a sound strategy.

Ji yoon is up on the roof to confront Tae baek over the ad board. They recognize each other but there is no time for niceties. They’ve got 20 minutes to right the ad board or they’re all getting fired.

Representative Lo arrives to see the ad board – upright again, but remains expressionless. Papa Kang is all nerves as he guides him to the meeting room.  

Addie also sees the board and asks for the contact of the person in charge of the ad board. Woo hoo. Chaos.

Tae baek complains to Jiyoon that the classic position for the board ad is boring. Ads should be eye-catching. Just then, Jiyoon receives a call from Addie with orders to revert the board to its vertical position. No shit.

Meanwhile, AeRi is presenting their proposal to the expressionless Rep Lo when Addie enters the room. In contrast to the calm atmosphere in the meeting room, JiYoon has strapped herself up to reposition the board. Tae baek is concern for her safety even as she assures him her hobby is rock climbing. She waves his concern away, since her job and his job is on the line.  And she proves quite capable as she lets herself down and hurries him.

Rep Lo finally speaks his mind and he’s not too pleased. AeRi manages to awkwardly smoothen the situation and continues her proposal. Outside, Jiyoon and Taebaek is still struggling with the huge board. She slips a little but quickly finds her footing again with his help. He remarks jokingly that a strong woman like her is not attractive. She retorts that a man who says that is not attractive. Hah. Touche. He says that she shouldn’t be in the ad industry, with her passion, she should at least be working for the country. *Smile* Nice compliment I say.

The PT ends with awkward claps as they await Rep Lo’s verdict. It’s not pretty as he comments that for a proposal touting “New Revolution”, the ad is surprisingly uninventive. Papa Kang, aka Rep Kang apologizes. Addie finally introduces himself as the new Planning Director and requests for two weeks. He promises a satisfactory proposal by then. Rep Lo only agrees to a miserly 30seconds for Addie to convince him why he deserves a second chance.

Addie raises the window binds to reveal the vertical board ad. “Columbus made egg stood on its end, today I made the car stand. Columbus discovered the new world, in two weeks I shall present an innovative new advertisement. Aren’t you curious about the car advertisement I can produce?” He gets the response he wants, and Rep Lo agrees to a two week extension. Cue collective breathe outs.

Still dangling floors high, Taebaek and JiYoon make formal introductions. She as GeumSan’s aspiring best copywriter, and he as formal employee of an advertisement board company. Cute.  

A round of finger pointing starts when AeRi  (Accounting Executive or AE) insists that the concept behind the proposal was fine. The other Team Leader who’s in charge of production is clearly not happy with her thinly veiled comment. Addie enters the room to preside over the meeting. First off, he instructs AeRi whom he understands graduate from a prestigious college to forgo all designing and focus on the car concepts. She tries to argue but he overrules her easily. Next off to receive his sarcasm is the other team leader, Lee Eun Hee (Hong Ji-min) – has her copyrighting prowess deteriorated so much because she’s getting older or is her team incompetent? Ouch.

He demands that they understand the whole car concept blah blah blah and Jiyoon is out snapping photos of various cars – 1000 copies.

Cut to a girl dancing energetically in a short skirt as an attraction for a shop. The manager starts getting handsy but TaeBaek intercepts by punching him, even as she tries to stop him. A moment later, she riding pillion on his bike. She’s TaeBaek’s sister – Lee SoRan (Han Sun Hwa). And she gripes that he shouldn’t have hit the manager, they could have sued him for sexual harassment and she’d have her tuition fees. She laments at their lack of money even as he remains upbeat and promises to settle her fees. Frustrated, she says no woman will like a guy like him and claws at him to remove the sticker at the back of his helmet – of him and AeRi.

Over dinner with granny, TaeBaek assures her that the interview went well. And he’s definitely getting paid this month. It seems to be a recurrent theme that he doesn’t get paid and SoRan gripes that if she doesn’t get her tuition fees this month, she refuses to attend school anymore. He moves to second helping with the rice and smiles at the photos of himself and a younger, bespectacled AeRi.
Granny smiles sadly but SoRan reminds him that he hasn’t heard from Unni for a long time. He still believes he’s in the US but she spells it out to him. Not contacting him means she’s cutting him loose. He refuses to accept that and playfully goes after her.

Addie overhears AeRi keeping tabs on Rep Lo’s wife. AeRi ignores a call which turns out to be from TaeBaek’s boss, calling about their cancelled contract. TaeBaek decides to confront GeumSan since he so needs the pay.

TaeBaek calls JiYoon and gripes about the cancelled contract, which means a loss of livelihood for people like him. JiYoon sympathizes with his plight but she can’t help him since she’s not exactly in charge. He bows and pleads for her to arrange a meeting with the person in charge.

He waits in a room while JiYoon gets AeRi who scolds her for bringing people like him into the company. Taebaek hears this and remarks about her cold attitude. But AeRi is accosted on the way by Addie who gives her a dressing down for unnecessarily keeping tabs on Rep Lo’s wife. He’s not impressed with her “lobbying tactics” and tells her to discard her phone for her pen – a metaphor implying she should stop calling her informant and work on her proposal. Harsh but no untrue. TaeBaek overhears that too and wonders if it’s bad timing for him to meet her now.

AeRi swallows her hurt and enters the room for another surprise. She seems stunned even as TaeBaek happily recognizes her as BokHee. Her immediate reaction is to lock the door as TaeBaek finally registers that something is different.

She tells him she’s changed her name to Go AeRi. When she left Korea, she wanted to discard everything passé about herself- name, background and people. It’s like a reset and she starts anew. He gets her meaning and asks if she’s happier now. She tells him bluntly that compared to a third rate lifestyle with a boyfriend who couldn’t get a decent job with a third rate degree – she’s much happier now.

She resumes work talk but he’s understandably not in the mood. The old him who loved her is telling him that she at least deserves a slap but the him now is telling him not to. It’s embarrassing enough showing up before an ex-lover in his state. He postponed the contract talk and leaves. He doesn’t say a word to the anxious Jiyoon but AeRi releases her anger at her by giving her a slap and warns her not to bother her with such problems again. Ooi.

The encounter leaves both reminiscing about the past. Cue flashbacks. A younger (and super cute) TaeBaek crushing on BokHee( the girl looks eerily similar to HCY).

TaeBaek and BokHee goodbye hug at the airport.

TaeBaek pledging to be a successful icon in the ad industry by the time she returns.

TaeBaek frustrated after being passed over in job interview.

A dispirited JiYoon shows up at her aunt’s shop (selling mountain hiking clothings). Aunt tsk tsks at her worn down appearance and offers her some herbal drink. They seem to be quite close judging from their interactions but the creepy thing is, an elder man is watching them from his posh car from outside. Estranged daddy issues?

TaeBaek catches grandma taking some odd jobs despite her bad knees and makes her promise not to do so anymore. He bundles her up in thicker clothes and ushers her home where he massages her knees and legs as “punishment”. Aww. He tells grandma to be patient because he would definitely be successful so that she can have her operation and live in better conditions. Granny is happy with him now and wants for naught.

 SoRan returns with shopping bags. A tie for him and some other stuffs bought by installments. Because TaeBaek is sure he’s getting that new job, surely he can afford a few gifts. And besides she’s auditioning for a modeling job – CF for DaeSung Group. That reminds TaeBaek about Addie’s harsh dressing down and he wonders just how great he is.

In the snowy night, he recalls happier times with BokHee, this time of her worrying about preparing a portfolio before she leaves for US. After teasing her a little, he whips out a ready portfolio – his work. She’s moved and warns him against dating other girls while she’s away. He promises to try but then again, he’s quite the hot property. Heh. She kisses him and makes him promise her he’d be successful by the time she returns. He returns the kiss and promises to do just that.

And that’s how he comes up with the bright idea of creating a proposal of his own for DaeSung. His rationale is if GeumSan secures the deal, they’d have the money, and their company gets paid.  And so in between his work, he sketches his ideas every now and then.

In GeumSan, AeRi, JiYoon and Addie is similarly milking their brain juices as well. Then again, Addie shows daddy his ready-made proposal. Dad approves but wonders why he’s making everyone work so much if he’s already got the resolution in hand. He believes that people can only realize their potential when pushed to the edge.

TaeBaek finally gets his inspiration when he sees his Boss’s kid playing with driving game on his dad’s smartphone. He ambushes JiYoon after work and pesters her to come up with a good slogan. He’s confident of his design but not so good with the copyrighting aspect. She’s too tired to entertain his request but he bugs her all the way into the bus.
She finally glances at it in the bus and is immediately intrigued. She’s impressed with the concept and design and asks which company the ad is for. He gives her a vague answer but she’s already in thinking mode. He falls asleep while she’s thinking but she wakes him up and scribbles her slogan on the window: “Play Dreaming Driving” (Okay the grammar is weird…but maybe I’m missing something). He approves.

The next day, he hands over his proposal to AeRi, which she is free to sign off as her own. In exchange, she has to solve their contract problem if the proposal is accepted. AeRi accepts but is wary that he harbors other expectations (regarding their relationship). He assures her there’s no hidden agenda. He still looks a little crestfallen as she walks away.

Meanwhile, Addie has already submitted his own proposal to the production team for appraisal. They grudgingly accept it’s pretty good. But it’s clear everyone still hates his guts. Hah.
AeRi  finally hands over TaeBaek’s proposal to Addie. He chides her for being so slow and informs her that the proposal has already been decided but he’d keep hers under consideration. AeRi stares daggers at him. Addie does however goes through the proposal and is immediately impressed.

Meanwhile, TaeBaek waits anxiously for news from AeRi. Everyone in the company deflates to hear that his proposal wasn’t chosen. They console themselves by saying that it’s too much of a stretch for his proposal to be selected anyway. JiYoon texts him asking for the result of his competition. He calls her back and admits that the proposal is for the DaeSung’s car. He is curious like hell to know what kind of proposal could trump the one they came up with. She can’t exactly attend the PT but she promises to find out. TaeBaek rides to GeumSan.

Rep Lo arrives for the PT. He glances at the ad board, which is currently in darkness. JiYoon watches the board from another room. The PT starts with Rep Lo being seated in this huge chair. The boards lights up with visuals from a car racing game, RPG style. It’s basically car racing arcade time. Addie makes his grand entry and offers the game remote (PP handphone) to Rep Lo who is immersed in the game. 

Elsewhere, jaws dropped as TaeBaek and JiYoonn recognizes that their work has been accepted after all. But what does all this mean?

I like the nice leads and iffy about the “evil” leads. But it’s been touted as a four lead drama and they can’t cast JHY and HCY and then make them out as loathsome evil antagonist right. Sooooo…. I expect lots and lots of character change and hopefully JHJ becomes more more more likeable as we go. The preview had me worried.

I already like the easy going chemistry between JinGoo and Park HaSun and am glad that the heroine is no long suffering optimistic girl. She’s on the receiving end of some pretty bad temper from AeRi but it’s understandable coz she’s just an intern working her way up to realize her dream. I can’t wait to see her link up with TaeBaek and the two alliances battle it out.

I just hope that they come up with more impressive ideas in future episodes. So far, the “great” ideas are so-so for this episode but this is early days yet so maybe they have greater tricks stored. I love me a good commercial (I’m one of those who click on funny, touching commercial ads on facebooks) and I’m always wowed by their creativity. And I really really want to be wowed. Praying very hard that this drama doesn’t disappoint~!


  1. Awww yeah, thanks a bunch for the recap! You help me filling in the blank spaces I have from watching it without subs :3 I'm also liking the nice leads but a little wary about the not-so-good leads. I don't really want to hate Ah-ri and Addie and hopefully they will somehow change throughout the course of the drama. I wasn't planning to watch this but now, I think I have to give it a try for few episodes, all thanks to Tae-baek and Ji-yoon.

    Again, thanks for the recap! I hope you'll continue although there are times that you'll feel a little lazy to do so. I can relate to it as a fellow blogger and recapper :D

  2. I hope you keep recapping this show -- I have a hard time understanding it watching it raw, and Park Ha Sun is such an entertaining actress!

  3. I'm watching Jdorama"夜行観覧車". Simply put: Awesome.