A new promotional video for an Israeli startup starring Bar Refaeli features swearing, the use of a date-rape drug and sexual aggression.

The clip ends with an apparently drugged Refaeli being led into a darkened room at a restaurant by the waiter who has drugged her. He places her on a counter and stands in front of her, brandishing a large knife, which he sharpens dramatically, with a comically crazed expression on his face. Elsewhere in the room, several other women are seen bound and gagged.

A semi-drugged Bar Refaeli and her captor in a MyCheck commercial. (photo credit: Image capture from video uploaded to YouTube by roykafri)

A semi-drugged Bar Refaeli and her captor in a MyCheck commercial. (photo credit: Image capture from video uploaded to YouTube by roykafri)

The 2.09-minute clip was produced for Israeli startup MyCheck, to advertise a new app that is being launched next week in the US and UK. It was posted on YouTube earlier this week.

Shortly after The Times of Israel called MyCheck on Wednesday to ask about the clip, which one technology writer called “simply unacceptable,” the version of the clip posted on YouTube was cut by 20 seconds, with the final scene in the darkened room deleted. “We decided to shorten the movie after we understood it may offend people,” explained MyCheck’s CEO Shlomit Kugler. “Our aim is to entertain, not to hurt anyone’s feelings, although personally I think it is very funny.”

The original YouTube version was still available in Hebrew at time of writing, on MyCheck’s website. On YouTube itself, however, only the shortened version was still posted:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xDLqLyWFSpo

“This video sadly proves that Israelis may be brilliant at the tech side of business but still can’t hold a knife and fork in civilized company,” said Matthew Kalman, a writer for MIT Technology Review.

“It’s mistakes like this that can sink Israeli companies who have great technology but simply don’t understand the mindset or culture of the people they’re trying to sell that technology to,” added Kalman. “Using images of date rape and drugs and sexual abduction to sell a product is simply unacceptable in most developed societies and it should be in Israel.”

In the video, the waiter character spies Refaeli dining alone at one of his tables and tries to woo her throughout her meal. The video features the waiter in the restaurant, besotted by the Israeli model, watching her eat, wiping a tear from her cheek, and singing about wanting to get her into his life. He lapses into swearing at one point, saying “What the f*ck.”

As Refaeli stands to leave at the end of her meal, he tells her “I put poison in your food, baby.”

She responds, “But I only ate the lettuce.”

The shortened clip ends at this point. In the full version, the waiter tells Refaeli she also ate some cauliflower, which he has evidently drugged. The scene in the darkened room follows.

Refaeli tweeted a few days ago: “Want to know why I’m laughing and what’s the connection to cauliflower?? Tomorrow, the full movie.”

The clip is designed to promote the MyCheck app, which allows users to pay and leave restaurants, hotels and parking lots when they’re ready, rather than waiting for the waiter, reception staff or parking attendant to ring up their bill. On arrival, users offer the four-digit number provided by the app to the relevant staffer, and then press PAY to process the transaction when they’re done, without having to make contact again with their service provider.

MyCheck’s CEO Kugler called the clip “a humorous look at a restaurant situation.”

“We had a connection to Bar Refaeli and we wanted to offer her an acting platform,” said Kugler, one of four partners and CEO of MyCheck, who worked at advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi Israel before launching the app.

MyCheck hired a professional filming company to create the ad. It marks the official launch of a pilot application that already has 10,000 users, Kugler said.

This is not the first time MyCheck used a YouTube video to advertise the application. The first was in December, when the first moments of the video feature a female character using coarse Hebrew language to invite her date back home. The English translation is smoother, “My place or yours?”

http://youtu.be/zDNfhKf-xfs