From 1998 to 2005, German caffeine company K-fee released nine 20-second long television commercials as part of their Wide Awake campaign for their coffee drink. These commercials have been heavily criticized for their content and many feel that the adverts are very uncommercial and upsetting, though its shocking visual is built to simulate the effect that the product has on the viewer.
The commercials consist of a peaceful scene, such as a car driving down a grassy hillside to soothing music. However, at some point in the ad, the scene gets briefly interrupted by either a zombie or a gargoyle screaming at the camera, followed by the company's slogan and the product.
K-fee received a lot of complaints from their viewers, and soon after that, the ads stopped being aired on television. Some people say that on some other occasions, a warning message was displayed before the advert played, informing any young children, individuals who are easily scared and people with heart conditions to not view the footage, however this could never be proved.
An episode of 'The Tonight Show with Jay Leno', aired in April 2005, featured a segment where the audience and Jay reacted to K-fee's Car commercial. It was hosted on K-fee's official website back in 1998 to 2007 along with the other adverts. The K-fee Car commercial was also featured in 2005 on Tarrant on TV, a famous British show.
K-fee reactions have been featured before on America's Funniest Home Videos, during the Tom Bergeron era, as well as reactions to The Scary Maze Game, but using a different screamer than Regan MacNeil.
The commercialsEach commercial had a German version and an English version, with the captions at the end in the respective language. There were also either a zombie or a gargoyle at the end of each advert. The zombie was played by American actor Brad Johnson, and the gargoyle was played by his brother, Adam Johnson. These ads were first aired on television in 1998.
Commercials featuring the zombie
- Car (Auto in German): The commercial begins with a relaxing scene of a white car driving down a grassy hillside to soothing music. When the car passes behind a large tree, the camera follows. Once it pans off the tree, the car is gone. Then, a zombie suddenly pops into the scene very briefly accompanied by a frightening scream, scaring the viewer. This commercial is more commonly known as Ghost Car, Spooky Car or the Scary Car Commercial.
- Fishing (Angler in German): This shows a man fishing in a lake, and not long afterwards the zombie appears, surprisingly not looking directly into the camera as it screams.
- Yoga: This shows a person practicing yoga on a cliff, and as soon as the person lifts their hand, the zombie seemingly appears out of nowhere, screaming. Its face is obscured by the dark.
- Meadow (Wiese in German): The video starts out with a field of wild flowers and a pollinating bee. It then cuts to a meadow with some bicycles leaning against a large tree, and the camera stops moving at a certain point. Not long afterwards, the zombie shows up from the left side of the screen and screams.
- Surfing: This is a far away view of a person on a beach going to the ocean to go surfing. Then the zombie appears from the right side of the screen and screams. This also seems to use the same footage of the zombie that's used in K-fee Car ad but it’s slightly zoomed in.
Commercials featuring the gargoyle
- Beach (Strand in German): This depicts two lovers on a beach about to kiss, and just as they do, the gargoyle jumps up screaming from the bottom of the screen, blocking the view, with blood dripping from its mouth.
- Boardwalk (Weg in German): This shows a relaxing scene of a boardwalk near a beach, with a jogger in the distance who can be heard breathing, and soon stops to take a break and look at the beach. The camera then pans to the beach as well, and shortly after it stops moving, the gargoyle appears upside-down and screams.
- Buddha: This depicts a woman sitting in a garden, meditating near a Buddha statue. The camera briefly cuts to the statue and then to the woman, and when it moves away to its original view, the gargoyle jumps up screaming. Its face is so close to the camera that it is out of focus.
- Golf: A man is shown golfing from far away. Eventually, a faint putting sound is heard, and shortly afterwards, the gargoyle appears upside-down and screams. This is the only spot that does not include any background music.
K-fee radio advertisements
In December 2000, K-fee released four radio advertisements; Investment, Love, Relaxation and Christmas. The ads were available in English and German.
- English version (0:29): The ad starts with a man saying the following: "Would you like to know how to make more of your money? Then, listen carefully. We've got an investment tip for you which promises top returns. This investment will guarantee you a worry-free life and allow you to fulfill cherished dreams. All with a monthly payment starting from just 20 euros. All you have to do..." Then, the sentence gets interrupted by the same loud scream used in the other K-fee commercials. Then, a voice reads "Ever been so wide awake? K-fee. Canned caffeine with coffee."
- German version (0:26): The ad starts with a man saying the following: "Moechten Sie wissen, wie Sie mehr aus Ihrem Geld machen? Dann hoeren Sie jetzt gut zu. Wir haben für Sie einen Anlagetipp mit einer Top-Rendite. Diese Anlage garantiert Ihnen ein sorgenfreies Leben. Und erlaubt es Ihnen, lang gehegte Wünsche zu erfuellen. Und das bereits ab einer monatlichen Einzahlung von nur 20 Euro. Sie muessen einfach nur..." Then, the sentence gets interrupted by the same loud scream used in the other K-fee commercials. Then, a voice reads "So wach warst du noch nie. K-fee. Kaffee in hohen Dosen."
- English version (0:33): The ad starts with lullaby music and young girl's voice saying the following: "Mummy mummy, how much do you love me?" Then, a woman's voice says: "I love you from here to the moon." "How far is that?" "Hm. It's so far." "Is that so much?" "Yes, my love. I love you so much. Now close your eyes sweetie, and listen while I read you a story. Once upon a time, there was a little dormouse called Piff. One day, it went..." Then, the sentence gets interrupted by the same loud scream used in the other K-fee commercials. Then, a voice reads "Ever been so wide awake? K-fee. Canned caffeine with coffee."
- German version (0:37): Kind: "Mama, Mama, wie lieb hast du mich?" Mama: "Ich hab dich von hier bis zum Mond lieb!" Kind: "Wie weit ist denn das?" Mama: "Das ist sooooo weit." Kind: "Ist das soooo doll?" Mama: "Ja, mein Süßes. Soooo doll lieb hab ich dich. Und jetzt macht mein kleines Krümelchen mal die Augen zu und hört schön hin, denn jetzt les ich dir noch eine kleine Geschichte vor… Es war einmal eine kleine Haselmaus namens Piff. Eines Morgens…"
- English version (0:49): The ad starts with the same music used in the K-fee Buddha ad. Then, a soft-spoken woman's voice saying the following: "And now, an exercise to help you relax. Make yourself comfortable. Close your eyes. Breathe in deeply through your nose. Keep your mouth shut. Feel that deep breath go down to your tummy. In, and out. And in, and out. And in, and out. And in, and..." Then, the sentence gets interrupted by the same loud scream used in the other K-fee commercials. Then, a voice reads "Ever been so wide awake? K-fee. Canned caffeine with coffee."
- German version (0:38): "Zu Ihrer Entspannung nun eine Übung. Machen Sie es sich bequem. Schließen Sie die Augen, atmen Sie durch die Nase tief ein. Der Mund bleibt dabei geschlossen. Atmen Sie tief in den Unterbauch. Ein, und aus. Und ein, und aus. Und ein, und…"
- English version (0:51): The ad starts with the sound of a clock ticking. Then, a Santa Claus voice says the following: "Ah, Christmas time again at last. And we all have such wonderful childhood memories. Pretty little crooked houses, with chimneys puffing out trails of smoke. Ha, yes. And the icicles glistening in the moonlight all around. The snow crunches softly under our feet, and when we come into the cozy warmth of our houses, the smell of delicious baked apples and freshly baked mince pies, and oh how excited we are when we finally, finally hear the sound signalling the arrival of Christmas day" Then, the sentence gets interrupted by the same loud scream used in the other K-fee commercials. Then, a voice reads "Ever been so wide awake? K-fee. Canned caffeine with coffee."
- German version (1:02): "Aaaaach, endlich ist wieder Weihnachtszeit und wir haben wieder all die schönen Erinnerungen an unsere Kindheit im Kopf. Die hübschen windschiefen Häuselein, aus deren Schornsteinen sich kleine Rauchfähnchen kräuseln. Ach, und die Eiszapfen allüberall, die im Mondenschein glitzern. Leise knirscht der Schnee unter unseren Sohlen, und wenn wir die behagliche Wärme unserer Häuslein betreten, dann duftet es schon nach Bratäpfelchen und frischgebackenen Rosinenmännlein. Hei, wie aufgeregt wir werden, wenn wir dann endlich, endlich am heiligen Abend das Signal zur Bescherung hören."
K-fee light-version advertisements
In December 2000, K-fee released new commercials for their line of Latte macchiato drinks that parodied their own prank flash-style commercials. Using the footage from three of K-fee's most popular commercials (Auto, Beach, and Golf), the company replaced the zombie or gargoyle at the end of the ad with a less frightening image, followed by the text "Jetzt auch mit weniger Koffein." (which translates as "Now also available with less caffeine") and a picture of a Latte Macchiato or Latte Macchiato Vanilla bottle. The Latte Macchiato commercials were only made in German, and used the same soundtracks from the originals with a higher pitch. These ads were first aired on television on December 27th, 2000.
- Beach (Light): A smiling teddy bear (possibly a hand puppet) appears instead of the gargoyle and giggles. The piano music in the background is higher pitched than in the original version. This spot advertises K-fee Latte Macchiato Classic.
- Auto (Light): A man in a light polo shirt appears from the bottom instead of the zombie and softly says “Boo!” in an effeminate, almost teasing voice. Once again, the background music is higher pitched, and the advertised product is K-fee Latte Macchiato Classic.
- Golf (Light): A man in a cheesy Halloween mask appears from below instead of the upside-down gargoyle from above and says “Bwa-ha-ha-ha!” in a calm voice. He can already be seen clumsily attempting to hide at the bottom of the screen before he rises up. There are more birds chirping in the background than in the original version. This spot advertises K-fee Latte Macchiato Vanilla.
K-fee magazine advertisements
Between December 1999 to February 2003, K-fee released multiple picture based advertisements within magazine's presumably in Germany. Not much is known about these advertisements, such as what magazines they appeared in.
K-fee has won two awards for their advertisements.
- Clio Awards 2000: K-fee's Investment, Love, Relaxation and Christmas radio advertisements.
- Cannes Lions 1998: K-fee's Car, Golf and Beach television commercials.
Cast & Crew
- Director: Kai Sehr
- Actors: Brad Johnson (Zombie), Adam Johnson (Gargoyle / Batboy)
- Producer: Kai Stoecker
- Advertising Agency: Jung von Matt (Hamburg, Germany)
- Creative Directors: Costantin Kaloff, Ove Gley
- Art Director: Frank Aldorf
- Production Company: Cobblestone Filmproduktion
- Sound Design: Doublehead
- Post Production: Deli Pictures
- Copywriters: Daniel Frericks, Eskil Puhl
- Aired on the following channels: ProSieben, Kabel Eins, Sat 1
On the Internet, an alternate ending shows, instead of the product and the slogan, the text: "Now...Go Change Your Shorts And Get Back To Work!" in Arial Black instead of the normal ending. Other manifestations of this ad include being sent as part of a chain-mail which supposedly depicts a ghost appearing during the filming of a television ad (sometimes from Great Britain); the viewer is instructed to follow the car closely, as a "mist" is supposed to appear next to the car at some point. The "mist", of course, never does appear, and the commercial plays out as described above, much to the chagrin of the viewer.
The Amazing World of Gumball
In the Cartoon Network animated series The Amazing World of Gumball, the episode named "The Internet", parodies the K-fee commercials. In one scene, Gumball and Darwin appear randomly browsing the web while watching videos. Among these videos, they come across what is implied to be the K-fee Car ad.
Gumball watches the video, commenting on the white car driving through the hills and staring closely at the screen, when suddenly the loud scream is heard, causing him to have an intense reaction which gets recorded and posted to the web. The rest of the episode involves Gumball trying to get the video removed, which has given him unwanted fame.
NOTE: The following videos contain screamers.
- Car: youtube.com/watch?v=i7UGsZIq0kk
- Fishing: youtube.com/watch?v=HGTsojFNm1s
- Buddha: youtube.com/watch?v=378At8DUXzE
- Golf: youtube.com/watch?v=fKMicpDhK-E
- Beach: youtube.com/watch?v=GIdJbFSJ4nA
- Meadow: youtube.com/watch?v=XwGJIU8eFUM
- Yoga: youtube.com/watch?v=C1GzUfmFMmk
- Surfing: youtube.com/watch?v=-JUbW0c885Q
- Boardwalk: youtube.com/watch?v=hRCXh0924qE
- Auto: youtube.com/watch?v=uGxxpwEzUQw
- Fishing: youtube.com/watch?v=5L5nLvPsb38
- Buddha: youtube.com/watch?v=n6iOXV_fHTY
- Golf: youtube.com/watch?v=px_cmWspfOU
- Beach: youtube.com/watch?v=hAlz3-xtkTY
- Meadow: youtube.com/watch?v=cR-hHVEw3r8
- Yoga: youtube.com/watch?v=4uan6yzpQ2o
- Surfing: youtube.com/watch?v=erSh4x6VF8E
- Boardwalk: youtube.com/watch?v=aKgl9A_hsT8
NOTE: The following videos contain screamers.
- Investment: youtube.com/watch?v=hHMC0RTprXM
- Love: youtube.com/watch?v=StwqJdTlv0E
- Relaxation: youtube.com/watch?v=jLCeBXWeiqQ
- Christmas: youtube.com/watch?v=pDKaPqrXb2c
Latte Macchiato (light commercials)
NOTE: The following videos do not contain screamers.
- Car: youtube.com/watch?v=Z8N0QiHc43M
- Beach: youtube.com/watch?v=EdZuqmi7-5M
- Golf: youtube.com/watch?v=31z8xaYDONA
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