This post was originally published on the Shutterstock blog and has been reprinted with permission.
Whether they’re flexing their creative muscles to experiment with different approaches or simply snagging a paycheck between features, many A-list directors have taken on-the-side gigs directing commercials for popular products and brands. Here are six top examples of advertisements from our favorite auteurs, ranging from a 1984 Ridley Scott Apple spot to David Fincher’s new campaign for Gap.
Ridley Scott – Apple
For the arrival of the Macintosh personal computer in 1984, Apple hired Alien’s Ridley Scott to helm the commercial that announced its intention to gain market share from IBM. Fresh from Blade Runner, Scott was the perfect choice to capture the Orwellian imagery of a dystopian 1984. As the heroine hurled the hammer and shattered the face of the metaphorical Big Brother, Apple ushered in a new era of marketing and technology. Fittingly, Advertising Age named this the 1980s Commercial of the Decade.
Sergio Leone – Renault
Italian auteur Sergio Leone’s last work was not the epic Once Upon a Time in America, but a decidedly less epic commercial for the Renault 18 diesel family car in 1985. Complete with music from composer Ennio Morricone, this spot evokes the same playfulness that Leone’s spaghetti westerns are famous for. It also set the stage for future generations of Hollywood directors to embrace the television commercial as a medium.
David Lynch – Clearblue
His unconventional methods of storytelling make David Lynch one of today’s most uncompromising directors, and while he’s no stranger to commercials (he’s done ads forPlayStation 2 and Obsession by Calvin Klein), he’s always found a way to put a “Lynchian” stamp on them. But what’s remarkable about his ad for Clearblue pregnancy tests is just how unremarkable it is. It’s seemingly free of irony, and that’s enough to wonder what David Lynch was thinking when he took on this project.
Spike Lee – Nike
The style of Spike Lee’s She’s Gotta Have It carried over to his ads for Nike’s Air Jordan sneakers. The director doubled as the shoe’s second pitchman, reprising his role as Mars Blackmon from his debut feature film to hype Michael Jordan and his line of shoes. Lee cemented his cultural relevancy with these commercials by establishing the identity of a burgeoning brand, and by introducing catchphrases to our collective lexicon.
Wes Anderson – American Express
The beloved director of Rushmore and The Royal Tenenbaums has actually directed more commercials than feature-length films. He’s done spots for AT&T, Hyundai, Ikea, and others, but our favorite is the American Express spot that’s as charming as his movies. Self-aware and employing the same whimsy his features are famous for, Anderson uses this platform to give the public more insight into the personality of the man behind the magic.
David Fincher – Gap
Big names like Michel Gondry and Spike Jonze have also done commercials for Gap, but David Fincher is the latest to bring his style to a brand that’s been a fashion mainstay for the last few decades. It’s normal for Fincher’s creations to have noir undertones, and Gap knowingly brought that vision on board to advertise its new fall line of clothing that embraces the “normcore” concept. For an audience that has spent a lifetime wearing clothes from the brand, Fincher helps show that “normal” can be synonymous with style.
What other ads by famous directors have stuck in your head? Let us know in the comments.