This story was first published on December 4th, 2009
This video, which has been circulating via email, social networking, and video sharing sites for several years, supposedly shows a terrible bungee jumping accident in which the unfortunate jumper has his head snapped off by a large crocodile as he nears the water at the end of his jump.
“Big Doug”, the hapless bungee jumper, is shown leaping from a high platform built over an Australian waterway while two sports commentators report on the action.
However, the video is not footage of a real incident, but instead a TV commercial for Foster’s, an iconic Australian beer. The commercial was first shown on British television back in 2003.
The version of the video currently circulating omits the final part of the commercial, which features shots of Foster’s hit tap, a type of beer that is made to retain its head more than other beers. The commercial ends with the voice-over, “New Foster’s Hit Tap…Don’t lose your head!”.
Of course, as the complete version shows, the majority of viewers who saw the original TV ad would have realized almost immediately that the footage did not show a real incident.
The words of the commentator after “Big Doug” loses his head, (“Crikey! That’s gunna hurt in the morning, son!”), along with the product shots and “Don’t lose your head” voice-over made it abundantly clear that the footage was intended only as a humorous way of promoting beer.
However, once it escaped out of the confines of its original TV context and with the final portion of the video omitted, many recipients believed that it depicted a real incident.
However, Britain’s Independent Television Commission (ITC) investigated the complaints and concluded that, while the ad may have been startling, it was “clearly humorous” and the “actual images were not graphic, bloody or realistic”. The ITC stated that the existing scheduling restrictions were adequate although it recognized that the style of humour would not suit all tastes.