While French director Michel Gondry is best known for his feature films like “Human Nature” and “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”, he actually began his career in the world of music videos and commercials. Over his career as a commercial director he has worked with some of the world’s most recognizable brands including Coca-Cola, Nike, Levi and Gap. No matter which client he is working for Gondry brings own idiosyncratic style. Below are some of the best examples of Gondry’s commercial work:
Motorola – Razr2 – 2007
In this video Gondry embues the experience of using the Motorola Razr2 with his signature dream-like quality. The female protagonist of the commercial enjoys a storybook exploration of each of the different uses the phone. Each of the different tasks possible with the phone are demonstrated with an enticing visual sense of fun.
Smirnoff – Smarienberg – 1997
In this advertisement for Smirnoff Gondry uses the narrative device of a hero and heroine being pursued by a comic book villain. The hero and heroine move through different movie genres including sci-fi, matrix-like slo-mo bullet ballet, and sea-ship storm disasters, with the villain close on their heels. Gondry cleverly integrates these disparate scenes with graphic match cuts using a bottle of Smirnoff Vodka.
Levi’s – Drugstore – 2006
The commercial for Levi is shot in a retro like black and white movie and features a young man going to the local drug or grocery store to purchase condoms. He stores the condoms in the watch pocket of his jeans and then later visits the house of a young lady who turns out to be the daughter of the store owner. The advertisement ends with text on screen “Watch pocket created in 1873. Abused ever since.”
HP – Michel Gondry Eternal Dreamer – 2007
This ad features Gondry himself as he speaks about how he uses his HP personal computer. The ad speaks about the processor inside and displays how the technology provides the ability for him to multi task using a lot of processor speed without affecting productivity. Gondry emphasizes how he even used his HP for the music that accompanies this said ad. What transforms this ad from a standard customer testimonial is Gondry’s amazing visuals demonstrating in real time what he achieves with his HP.
Air France – Le Passage – 1999
This ad is set to smooth and slow music and features an airline flying in the sky. In each scene the airline pass people from different walks of life each performing an activity that mimics or sets a path for the sight of the passing airplane. The action in the ad follows the title of the ad as we see the flight passing various locations throughout the day.
BMW – Pure Drive – 2008
Gondry makes this ad simple yet highly effective. It features the BMW 3 series being driven at night and shows you the car throughout the ad as it drives down the road. The ad is set to techno music and the only narration comes toward the end where a female voices notes “every car as its moment but this one has thousands per second….” The ad depicts this in the video as they show they car at multiple intervals as it drives down the road.
Heineken – Debut – 2008
This ad doubles as an ad for Heineken and the James Bond movie “Quantum of Solace”. It features Bond and his leading lady in a standard bar setup with the classic Bond theme music in the background. So far it is par for course. That is until we cut to a shot of Bond’s torso with an obviously copy-and-pasted head of an “ordinary joe” making a rather vulgar tongue licking gesture to the femme fatale. The idea being that we too can become part of Bond’s somewhat ridiculous world.
Coco Cola – Snowboarder – 2012
This Japanese Coco Cola ad set on a snowy mountain features a crowd watching a snowboarder perform. The ad is set in slow motion to show the reaction of the group as well as the opening of the Coco-Cola and the way the liquid squirts out of the can. The stylish use of slow motion is visually captivating holding the viewers attention through-out.
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