Korean survival drama Squid Game has become something of a cultural phenomenon over the past few weeks.
Now, several brands and institutions around the world are hopping on the bandwagon. The Korean Cultural Centre in UAE, in Abu Dhabi, organised a version of the games featured in the show (without the dangerous penalties, of course), while uniforms worn by the show's characters are already the most searched Halloween costumes. Visitors to the Korea Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai can also play versions of the games in the hit show, which recently became Netflix's most-watched original series.
A cafe in Ajman also joined in by launching a Squid Game-themed challenge earlier this month. For every Dh50 spent at Dot Cafe, customers were handed dalgona, the sugar candy that comes with various shapes stamped in the centre. Customers who managed to cut out the shapes without cracking the candy got their pick from cards with prizes up for grabs, including discounts, free meals and even an iPad.
“We hadn’t done any type of promotion since we opened the cafe in December 2018 and always wanted to do something big. With the series being such a hit, we thought this could be a game changer for us. And that’s exactly what happened,” brand manager Sanket Gowda tells The National.
Gowda says the challenge drew in unexpected crowds from all over the UAE, and went viral on TikTok and Instagram.
But on Sunday, the restaurant ended the challenge because it was unable to keep up with the demand.
"We were starting to get 400 transactions in a day and couldn’t handle it,” says Gowda.
Vouchers can still be claimed until the end of the month, and the cafe's Squid Game theme and decor remain in place, including staff uniforms and a picture of the robot doll outside the cafe. More giveaways are being planned at the end of October, with a promise of launching similar challenges down the line.
“We got very good feedback from customers so we will probably start something again. But we will see how we can make it different,” says Gowda.