Special Feature: Hollywood Directors and TV Commercials (part one)

Jean-Luc Godard


With the news that Joel and Ethan Coen have produced and directed a television commercial, it got ol' Baddie thinking about times in the past when other famed Hollywood directors stepped away from the features and produced television advertisements. While not every example is as politically-charged as the Coen's ad spot about clean coal, the commercials below are interesting, as we can see the fingerprints of some great auteurs on something as simple as a beer campaign.





Wim Wenders is an Academy Award nominated filmmaker from Düsseldorf, Germany. Having won the prestigious award for Best Director at the Cannes Film Festival in 1987 (for his classic 'Wings of Desire,' released to the public in 1988) and being nominated for Best Documentary at this year's Academy Awards, Wenders' ability and track record is proven a hundred-fold.


But the skilled and talented mind behind 'Paris, Texas' and 'The Buena Vista Social Club' also enjoys his beer.


While you may not spot the impression of Wenders' feature works upon these advertisements, they certainly stand apart from other ads of their ilk. Here is Wenders' spot for Stella Artois:


Stella Artois is not the only beer to employ Wenders for a television spot. Check out this older commercial Wenders made for Carling Premiere:



Federico FelliniFederico Fellini is one of the most taught, celebrated, yet also misunderstood filmmakers of all time. The artist from Rimini who later lived in Rome is best known for the film ' ,' a psychological look at a film director and his relationship to memory. Known for his subtlety and his gentle touches in filmmaking, the commercial spots Fellini made for Barilla pasta and later for the Bank of Rome are short films in of themselves.


Here's the first, entitled "Alta Societa:"

They just don't make em like they used to, eh?

And here's the spot for the Bank of Rome--entirely unique:




In perhaps the most unbelievable spot of the entire list, Parisian filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard (a staunch anti-capitalist, pictured at the top of the article) made an advertisement for Schick aftershave in 1971. As the story goes, Godard (revered for 'Breathless' and 'Vivre sa Vie') had co-founded the Dziga Vertov Group, a collection of filmmakers who were anti-verité. Having the DVG land an advertising campaign for Schick will go down in history in the annuls of strange bedfellows... however as you can see from the bizarre commercial, Godard didn't sell-out nor abandon his film style:


For readers who do not speak French, the radio broadcast that rousts the couple is about Palestine and the ongoing crisis therein. Godard managed to infuse a political message into the Schick ad, in a very clever way.


Three famed, award-winning auteurs... three men purported to be geniuses of their craft... and their experiences with television advertising.

In Part Two, we look at commercials from more recent popular Hollywood filmmakers--coming soon!


- Federico Fellini

Written by: bad_subject
Nov 28th, 2012, 12:18 pm

Carlos S

Message Posted On Nov 29th, 2012, 5:29 pm
Extraordinary tales of commercial TV from Europe. You amaze me sir.

Message Posted On Nov 28th, 2012, 9:28 pm
Really interesting. Thanks for the analysis and for compiling these unusual commercial endeavors from three of the giants of cinema.
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