How a banned energy drink ad spawned a fake brand and film

The Todd Terje mockumentary director’s new film, starring Adam Pearson, Brett Gelman and Alexandra Marzella, was blocked by the soft drink company it attacks – so he’s invented a new corporation called DRIB

This is a fake advert for a fake energy drink called DRIB, created to advertise a real film about a real energy drink which can't be released because the real energy drink company is refusing to give permission for the story to be used. Got that? Good.

Kristoffer Borgli is the Norwegian director behind bittersweet Todd Terje mockumentary Whateverest and 2014’s Internet Famous, a brief exploration of the ethics of happy-slapping and viral content. Describing his first feature-length project, set to the fizzy pop sounds of PC music affiliate Felicita, he told Dazed: “The film takes you on a reconstruction of events in the recent past that centers around a cancelled ad campaign for an energy drink. The story is rewritten just enough to avoid legal complications. Hopefully.”

But those hopes were in vain. The (unspecified) energy drink company has refused to allow the film to be released in its current form. Borgli is now trying come up with ways of “aesthetically censoring” his project, conveying his anger at the IRL advertising conceit dreamt up by the company without attracting the attention of their IRL legal department.

Stage one in that process was the invention of a crass marketing campaign for DRIB, the phoney energy drink advertised as reversing the effects of a possibly-fatal motorcycle crash. “I’m embracing all the censorship as an aesthetic,” Borgli says. “The level of protection of a brand or corporation by law is absurd to me. It made me angry, and more sure I wanted to do the film. Brands infiltrate and surround us all the time, but they are protected from being publicly talked about or appropriated in art.”

When asked to explain what was so awful about the original ad campaign which inspired his movie, Borgli’s response was typically teasing. He alluded darkly to the rise and fall of heartily-endowed porn star Dirk Diggler (Mark Wahlberg) in 1997’s Boogie Nights, but would not be drawn any further.

The film itself, which stars the reboot of Twin Peaks' Brett Gelman, Under the Skin’s Adam Pearson and artist Alexandra Marzella, is still stuck in legal hell. But Borgli explains that DRIB is now bigger than the unnamed movie, as “what started as a compromise quickly became an obsession.” Perhaps, he suggests, it will even become part of the “world's first feature length advert.” Whatever happens next, it is clear this advert is just the first step in the irreverent auteur’s most ambitious project to date.

DRIB is not available to buy now in a store near you