They’ve made some of the greatest films of all time but even the mightiest of Hollywood directors have been lured by the power of commerce to take on advertising. With the annual Christmas mega-marketing now underway, here are 10 adverts made by the best of the best…
1. Steven Spielberg – BP: Elevator
He’d just given the world Schindler’s List and Jurassic Park but in 1994 Steven Spielberg was behind BP’s ‘On the Move’ campaign. Produced by Lucasfilm and bearing a very John Williams soundtrack, if this hadn’t been made by the two-time Oscar winner, we’d all be calling it a tribute.
2. Michel Gondry – John Lewis: Under the Bed
Maybe not the most instantly recognisable name on the list, the newest entry comes from Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind director Michael Gondry. John Lewis normally entrust their Christmas advert campaign to Dougal Wilson but clearly this year a little Oscar sparkle was wanted. This isn’t Gondry’s only foray into commercials, though; he’s also taken on ones for Coca-Cola, BMW and Heineken, to name a few.
3. Sam Fell – Sainsbury’s The Greatest Gift
Sticking with Christmas, last year Sainsbury’s gave their ‘Greatest Gift’ campaign to director Sam Fell and it’s easy to see why. The advert, which featured the singing voice of James Corden, was a stop motion creation, so who better than the man behind ParaNorman and Flushed Away?
4. Sofia Coppola – Dior: Miss Dior Cherie
Casting the stunning Natalie Portman as Miss Dior Cherie, Dior wanted a director of equal prowess to capture beauty in their 2008 advert. No stranger to elegance, Sofia Coppola was brought on board, having previously produced 2003’s enchanting Lost in Translation. Since the ad, Coppola has turned her talent to Emma Watson-starring The Bling Ring and, this year, The Beguiled. She’s also done an advert for Calvin Klein.
5. Joe Wright – Chanel: Coco Mademoiselle
Another highly fashionable advertisement, this time by Joe Wright. Starring a typically dazzling Kiera Knightley, this one is rather lovely. Wright had worked with Knightley prior to this on his 2005 Pride & Prejudice and again in Atonement. A year on from the 2011 ad, they’d reunite for Anna Karenina. As adverts go, there’s panache here.
6. David Fincher – Heineken: Beer Run
Indeed, perhaps one attraction of hiring big-shot directors to do your adverts is the potential for them to bring star wattage along for the ride. Fresh from working together on Fight Club, David Fincher and Brad Pitt teamed up again for this typically murky Heineken Super Bowl spot. Adverts being a big money business, this one goes so far as to create a sequence of entirely digital shots with crowds and a photo-real city.
7. Alejandro González Iñárritu – Facebook: The Things That Connect Us
Iñárritu had yet to win his two Oscars in a row for Birdman and The Revenant when he was hired by Facebook for their 2013 campaign. Back then, the director was best known for his so-called ‘Death Trilogy’ and nothing reminds people of their own mortality like social media, right? It’s a suitably strange turn though from Iñárritu, featuring the slogan: ‘Chairs are like Facebook’…which didn’t quite catch on.
8. David Lynch – Playstation: The Third Place
Speaking of odd…fair play to the person who came up with the idea too hire David Lynch to make an advertisement for Playstation. Like the best of the Mulholland Drive director’s work, this is sixty seconds of deeply unsettling paranoia that makes next to no sense but still proves breathtaking. The Clear Blue ad that Lynch made before this is deeply mundane by comparison.
9. Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola – Stella Artois: Le Apartomatic
With six Academy nominations between them, Anderson and Coppola’s advert for Stella Artois looks, sounds and feels exactly like you’d imagine an advert for Stella Artois to look, sound and feel like coming from Anderson and Coppola. In one word: quirky.
10. Ridley Scott – Apple: 1984
Whilst, officially, the Blade Runner sequel has only been released in 2017, a spiritual sequel was produced by the film’s director just one year later in 1983. This was the advert that introduced the world, via a supposes take down of the dystopian computer contemporary of the time, to the Macintosh computer. Because no one says vive la revolution, and down with Orwell’s Big Brother, like the closed-system manufacturers of the iPod, iPhone, iPad, iWatch, MacBook Air, MacBook Pro and Apple TV.