14 TV Commercials Made By Famous Movie Directors
By Rudie Obias
It takes a long time for movies to be written, produced, shot, and edited for audiences—that's why, on average, a director releases a movie every two to three years. In between, some notable directors keep in practice by making commercials for high-end name brands including Chanel, Gucci, and Apple Computers. Here are 14 TV commercials from famous movie directors made between film projects.
1. Wes Anderson: American Express
Before the release of The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou, Wes Anderson was part of the “My Life, My Card” campaign for American Express. Anderson was the star of the commercial as it followed him throughout a tough shooting day. Actor Jason Schwartzman and cinematographer Robert Yeoman were at the center of the commercial, along with Wes Anderson’s trademark other meticulous indie quirks.
2. Wes Anderson: Stella Artois
Anderson also did a commercial for Belgian beer brewery Stella Artois with co-director Roman Coppola. This commercial also featured Anderson’s attention to detail in re-creating French spy movies from the 60s.
3. Spike Jonze: Gap
In 2005, Gap commissioned Spike Jonze to make a new commercial that would signify a new era with the San Francisco-based clothing line. What they received was Jonze’s penchant for being anti-establishment and a prankster. Gap was not happy with the TV ad featuring Gap employees and customers destroying one of their retail stores. The commercial ran in a few cities before Gap pulled the plug.
4. David Lynch: Sony PlayStation 2
After the release of Mulholland Dr., David Lynch made an eerie commercial for Sony PlayStation 2 that resembled many elements of his 1977 film Eraserhead. While it’s unclear what this had to do with video games, Lynch made an unforgettable commercial with disturbing imagery.
5. David Lynch: Clearblue Pregnancy Test
Not all commercials are works of art. Lynch directed a surprisingly straightforward commercial for a pregnancy test. Was David Lynch really passionate about the Clearblue Brand or was the paycheck that good?
6. Sophia Coppola: Christian Dior’s Miss Dior
After the production of her upcoming film The Bling Ring, Sofia Coppola directed a TV commercial for Miss Dior that premiered during the 85th Academy Award ceremony. The commercial starred Natalie Portman and captured Coppola’s trademark cinematic whimsy. The ad also featured singer Grace Jones’ rendition of “La Vie en Rose.”
7. Darren Aronofsky: Yves Saint Laurent
After the release of Black Swan in 2010, Darren Aronofsky directed a commercial for Yves Saint Laurent’s La Nuit de L’Homme cologne featuring French actor Vincent Cassel, who appeared in the aforementioned film. The commercial showcased Aronofsky’s ability to play with color and light, which reflected Cassel’s playful nature. The TV ad also features the music of Clint Mansell, a longtime Aronofsky collaborator.
8. David Fincher: Apple
In 2009, David Fincher directed a commercial for Apple’s new iPhone 3GS titled “Break In.” Fincher worked with one of his collaborators, cinematographer Jeff Cronenweth, who did the photography on Fincher’s 1999 film Fight Club.
9. David Fincher: Nike
Released the same year he was nominated for an Academy Award for directing The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Fincher directed a TV spot for Nike that featured NFL superstars LaDainian Tomlinson and Troy Polamalu. Much like the film he was nominated for, the Nike commercial “Fate” followed the life cycle of two pro football players (only in chronological order, unlike Benjamin Button).
10. Sergio Leone: Renault 18 Diesel
In 1985, after the release of his last film Once Upon a Time in America, Italian director Sergio Leone made a commercial that showcased the power of the Renault 18 Diesel car. The commercial also showcased Leone’s love for the Western genre and featured music from collaborator Ennio Morricone. The commercial would be the last film Leone would direct; Leone died four years later in 1989.
11. Joe Wright: Chanel Coco Mademoiselle
In 2011, British director Joe Wright made a commercial for the Chanel Coco Mademoiselle fragrance, starring actress Keira Knightley—who appeared in Wright’s literary film adaptations Pride and Prejudice, Atonement, and Anna Karenina. The ad is seductive, sexy, and highly stylized. It also features singer Joss Stone’s cover of “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World.”
12. Michael Bay: Victoria’s Secret
Director Michael Bay is known for making movies that are excessive and loud. So when he was commissioned to direct a commercial for Victoria’s Secret, why not feature one with motorcycles, explosions, and numerous leggy supermodels in lingerie. The shoot also served as a casting call: When actress Megan Fox didn’t return to the Transformers film series, the 48-year-old director replaced her with Victoria’s Secret model Rosie Huntington-Whitely in the movie Transformers: Dark of the Moon, who appeared in this commercial.
13. Ridley Scott: Apple Computers
Considered the greatest commercial of all time, Ridley Scott’s “1984” TV ad for Apple Computer's new Macintosh premiered during Super Bowl XVII in 1984. While the Orwellian ad only aired once, the commercial was very influential on future marketing and the overall success of Apple in the early 80s. Apple CEO Steve Jobs chose Ridley Scott to direct the TV spot because of the dystopian future world he created in the 1982 film Blade Runner.
14. Baz Luhrmann: Chanel No. 5
In 2004, Australian director Baz Luhrmann made a commercial that reunited him with his Moulin Rouge! star Nicole Kidman. Based on the William Wyler film Roman Holiday, the 3-minute commercial was lush, flamboyant, and decadent. The commercial was so extravagant that it’s considered the most expensive commercial of all time with an estimated budget of a whopping $33 million. Nicole Kidman received $3 million for appearing in the ad.