The world of television advertising is a weird and mysterious place. Around 90% of it is utter crap all fast sells on automobiles, cleaning products, or weirdly sexy CGI kangaroos. Fortunately for television viewers, many of the poor souls trapped in the advertising biz are constantly trying to work an angle to deliver something that not only sells, but entertains. In the decades since the music video made innovations in the short-subject world, many of the finest directors of advertising have climbed the ranks all the way up to feature film directors and sometimes big-shot directors are even lured into the commercial field.
This is the first in an ongoing symposium of highly stimulating commercials - Media Potluck style! So sit back, relax, and dig this:
7up: I don't know the origins of this commercial, I wish I did. It's a juxtapositional feast of 80s - Pac-Man fever unleashed not in any intensity but in the smoky, soft focus haze of Kim Carnes' "Bette Davis Eyes" and gorgeous Tron-like computer graphics. The lyrics of the song are shamelessly re-done to assure me of the crisp and alluring refreshment of 7-up, but it only serves to make the experience more surreal, serene, and weirdly transcendental.
Parisienne Cigarettes, Parisienne People by David Lynch: This is one of those aforementioned instances of a known director doing ad work. Eccentric filmmaker David Lynch has, in fact, done his fare share of commercials from a perfectly normal pregnancy test ad to the intense "Third Place" PS2 ads. This cigarette commercial is 1000% Lynch, and totally amazing for it. Were I to actually have seen it on television I may have had some sort of magical aneurysm.
American Cancer Society - Smoking Fetus by David Fincher: Before he was directing hits like Fight Club and Alien 3, David Fincher made a name for himself in advertising. His ad work is as dark and distinctive as his films. His first work is relatively famous and stands out as perhaps one of the most eerie, maybe even downright scary, commercials of all time - a creepy fetus puppet smoking in a translucent womb. Yeegh.
Let's examine some other Fincher ads. In 1993 he directed a series of ads for AT&T called "You Will". The ads promoted a collection of futurist concepts conjured up by the telecommunications company. Fincher delivers on all AT&T's wildest dreams but does so on his terms, painting a smokey, worn, lived-in 15-minutes in the future as opposed to any sort of antiseptic utopia of modern convenience. Perhaps the strangest and most startling thing about these commercials is that most of these innovations are now part of our daily lives. Back then it was still sci-fi.