In late summer 2017, several unreliable web sites published identical reports alleging that the makers of a car commercial reluctantly decided never to air the ad because of a “ghostly” apparition the crew accidentally captured on film:
Advertising companies can come up with a lot of brilliant ways to sell their products. And because of this, commercials have become part of our culture, so much so that they’ve become an event in and of themselves at least once a year. But while there are a lot of things that help sell products, creepy ghost-like figures aren’t among them.
A British camera crew was filming a car commercial in the countryside. In it, you can see the car drive smoothly on a winding road, lined with trees. Soothing music plays in the background. It seems like the perfect advertisement. But something ended up being wrong.
The editor was watching the footage when he noticed something odd. As the car cleared one group of trees, something popped up on screen that no one noticed while watching it in person. There was a mist moving along the side of the road, that the editor couldn’t help but notice appeared to have a ghostly aura to it.
So the film crew began digging. After they did some research, they discovered something even more spooky: someone had been killed on that exact spot, years ago. They died in a car accident, right where the editor noticed the mist appearing. The crew was so freaked out, they decided never to air the commercial.
We’ve posted the video below. Remember, you have to pay very, very close attention. Watch very carefully. Make sure you read the intro.
For anyone unable (or unwilling) to watch the video, it consists of a long preamble reiterating the story above, followed by about 20 seconds of footage showing a vehicle navigating along a winding roadway in a bucolic setting, followed by (spoiler alert!) a still shot of a frightening, zombie-like face accompanied by a loud, high-pitched scream, capped off by a title card reading: “Now … go change your shorts and get back to work!”
In short, it’s a prank, and it’s a prank that works quite well thanks to the misdirection of the false preamble. What none of the web sites on which the video clip has appeared discloses, however, is that it’s an ever-so-slightly altered version of a real commercial that actually did air on European television networks in April 2005 (when it was also teased to American viewers via The Tonight Show with Jay Leno). Here is the original version, which advertised not a vehicle, but a caffeinated energy drink called K-fee:
The German tagline, “So wach warst du noch nie,” can be translated as “You have never been so awake” or, as it was actually rendered in an English-language version of the commercial, “Ever been so wide awake?”
The slogan and basic concept were used in a series of award-winning TV, Internet, and radio spots produced by the Hamburg marketing firm Jung von Matt for K-fee in 2004. All featured the same “screamer” or “jump scare” ending (all nine of the original television spots can be viewed in one sitting here).
The campaign was so successful that it was followed up a year later with milder, self-parodying versions of the ads featuring the reworked tagline, “Jetzt auch mit weniger Koffein” (“Now also with less caffeine”):