THE 2009 “Eyebrows” ad for Cadbury’s chocolate remains one of the more popular advertisements in recent years, with most people easily recalling the delightful young duo who started the ‘eyebrow dancing’ craze of the internet’s viral youth.
Although people are most familiar with the released version of the ad featuring James Stephenson and Rebecca Davidson, both of who have gone on to lead perfectly normal lives, only a few people caught the original release of the commercial which also starred a third boy, who was hastily edited out of the spot days after it was released after shocking revelations about his eyebrows.
Derek Farris, then 13, now 22, had been considered “too old” for the part at the time, but had won the director over with his mercurial eyebrows which could dance to almost any beat. Farris, who had been waiting his whole life for a chance to put his eyebrows to use, wasn’t going to take no for an answer when it came to literally the only eyebrow-based casting call that had ever been sent out by an agency. He sent tape after tape of himself eyebrow-dancing in his bedroom, until finally Cadbury relented and found another £374 in the budget to bring him in.
But fate would deal a cruel hand to Farris as he celebrated his casting, after an epic Tippex and Tekken session with his friends, the young Londoner fell asleep at a party, leaving his mates with no choice but to shave his eyebrows off for the laugh.
“He hit the roof when he woke up, he literally hit the fucking roof,” said Dick Michaels, one of the youngsters who de-browed Farris.
“We thought it was funny, but then we saw he was crying. The we thought it was really, really funny”.
With the shoot in two days, Farris desperately searched for solutions. He drew on eyebrows with his mum’s mascara. He washed his face in his dad’s Rogaine for nine straight hours. He prayed.
Turning to the black market for help, Farris was able to spend the last of his pocket money on a controversial, illegal hair growth treatment that was designed to make Russian female athletes appear more feminine. He was given strict instructions to inject his forehead with 5mg of the substance.
He injected a gallon.
Farris showed up at the set with a perfect set of eyebrows, and eyebrow-danced rings around the other kids. It was the eyebrow dance of his life. Execs at the shoot were ecstatic. Farris left the other two kids in his dust.
In the following weeks, the ad was edited, approved, and aired on the 24th June, 2009. Farris sat beside the other two children, and they performed an excellent eyebrow dance to Gangsta Gangsta by NWA. Everything was going great.
Then everything stopped going great.
Farris had been warned about the side effects of too much of the eyebrow serum, but he hadn’t listened. He woke up on the morning of 27th June, 2009, with an itching sensation on his forehead. He tried topical creams, he tried soaps, he tried leaving it alone. But by lunchtime, it was unbearably itchy. His judgement impaired by his itchy forehead, Farris got angry and stabbed a policeman in the foot while waiting at a pedestrian crossing.
“Right in my fucking toe,” said Constable Frank Hartman, who still gets a limp when it’s cold.
Aghast that their star was embroiled in such a high-profile foot stabbing, Cadbury’s immediately ordered a re-edit of the ad to crop Farris out, as well as using the track “Don’t Stop The Rock” by Freestyle, admitting that the NWA track had been a ‘poor call’.
Farris served 18 months in a juvenile detention centre, and never eyebrow acted again. Today, not many people remember him from the ad at all, with the new, edited version living on in many people’s memories as the only version to have ever existed.
As for Cadbury, Dairy Milk sales have remained consistent since the ad campaign, which also included a spot where a gorilla plays drums and a fleet of baggage vehicles race down a runway, and an immediately-banned ad featuring thousands of Welshmen dressed as sheep.
We reached out to Farris for comment, but we were told to fuck off.