The Underberg Ad: “Through the Night to the Light”

by Diane Duane

Its name in German is “Durch Nacht zum Licht”, and though I’ve loved it for years I had no idea it was so famous.

Some years ago, back when the Sky satellite system had not yet gone digital, numerous analog European stations shared various transponders with the English-speaking services on that generation of Astra satellites. A number of these were German — Bayrischer Rundfunk, the two German national stations ARD1 and ARD 2, Hessische Rundfunk, and various others, including the commercial broadcaster RTL.

One night RTL 2 showed a compendium edition of 50s and 60s German commercials. (The compendium as a whole is available on YouTube, here: about thirteen minutes of assorted stuff. I strongly recommend watching it if only for the below Lady in the Terrifyingly Pointy Bra.)



Anyway, I love programs like this, and so I taped it; and some while ago while we were dubbing some old tapes to CD (this was before DVDs), I made sure to dub that program as well, because I really wanted to share this commercial (and a couple of others). The sponsor is the  herbal digestive bitter called Underberg (which is still sold and quite effective. The main active ingredient, if I remember correctly, is valerian, but I strongly suspect the alcohol content is important in offsetting hangover symptoms.)

This commercial is the freakiest evocation of a hangover nightmare (or frankly any other nightmare) that I’ve ever seen on TV. It turns out that the animator, Hans Fischerkoesen, was famous in Germany: he was often called “Germany’s Walt Disney” and you can read more about him here. Anyway, the thing is impressionistic and there are rats and skeletons and clutching spectral fingers and it’s just terrific. 

So here’s that ad. As it’s clipped out of the compendium setting, it ends a little abruptly. Sorry about that.

Enjoy (if possible!).



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