America has a whole host of urban legends surrounding television shows and movies. Probably the most famous is the legend of the cursed movie set, which claims that for years after the movie Poltergeist was filmed, actors and producers all met terrible fates. Similar claims were made for the cast of The Exorcist, and probably several other movies I’m not aware of. The point is that the cursed set is a staple of entertainment related urban legends. These sorts of stories aren’t limited to the US, however. Japan has its own strange entry into the canon of cursed sets: the Curse of the Kleenex Commercial.
A series of Kleenex commercials aired in the Eighties that spawned the legend of the cursed commercial set. The version of the commercial I scrounged up featured a woman in white and a baby painted to look like an ogre or a demon. Legend has it the commercial features a strange song in German that says “die die” over and over, the tone of which changes based on the time of day. The commercial was said to bring bad luck as well. Thoroughly creeped out television viewers complained, and Kleenex pulled the ads.
But, legend has it, the trouble only began once the ad was pulled. The lead actress in the commercial supposedly suffered a mental breakdown and was institutionalized, while the baby died under mysterious circumstances. From producers to cameramen to gaffers, everyone even remotely related to the commercial died or suffered accidents or other misfortunes.
Chris’ Edit: Here is the video for those who don’t want to follow the link below.
Now, of course, not much of that is true. It is true that the ads were pulled when people complained. The song in the ad was actually an English song called “It’s a Fine Day”, which while not German and not saying “die die”, is still creepy in the context of the commercial, or so this fellow thinks. No one associated with the commercial died under mysterious circumstances that I can find, and the lead actress Keiko Matsuzaka is still alive and working as an actress to this day. So, while the commercial itself is bizarre, it’s more an example of failed marketing than anything supernatural. See the commercial here [Author’s note: I had no end of trouble trying to embed the video. So I wound up taking a screen cap, which ALSO gave me no end of trouble. Is it the curse of the Kleenex commercial at work? Or just poor technical skills? I’ll leave that for you to decide (hint: it’s probably the latter)].