Stuart Clark

Five memorable adverts involving Oscar winners

After an Oscars ceremony where everything possible has been said about Ellen DeGeneres’ star-studded selfie taking over Twitter, and poor Mr. DiCaprio still awaiting a much-deserved win, it seems a good time to take a different tack.

Ikea – Directed by Spike Jonze

A subversive streak has characterized Spike Jonze’s film career, and it’s that unconventional style which makes his ‘Lamp’ advert for Ikea so memorable. The setup shows a woman kissing her fading lamp goodbye, and leaving it outside – followed by faux-melodramatic shots of the lamp looking lonely in the rain, with the new lamp installed inside. It’s enough to elicit a bit of sadness, until the premise is turned on its head, as a matter-of-fact individual enters the screen, to ask “do any of you feel bad for this lamp? That is because you crazy, it has no feelings, and the new one is much better.” Witty, original, and the first time around – a genuinely surprising twist.

DirecTV: ‘Misery’ – Starring Kathy Bates

Intelligently using a renowned film to create a memorable advert, DirecTV reunited Kathy Bates and James Caan, stars of cinematic classic Misery to promote satellite TV service DirecTV. By using Misery’s most graphic scene to make the point that cancelling DirecTV, which has more HD sports than other providers would be crueler than chopping off someone else’s foot works, though the tone here is necessarily more lighthearted than the film’s. The voiceover line is a perfectly in-sync call to action – “put an end to the torture, and hook up your new flatscreen to DirecTV”. It’s funny, persuasive, and as comfortingly familiar as a film about a foot amputation could be.

American Express: ‘My Card, My Life’ – Starring Robert De Niro

Despite starring in some less than stellar films in recent decades, Robert De Niro’s aura makes him a big draw for any product. This American Express advert intelligently combines De Niro’s own stardom with the city he is associated with – New York. Furthermore, the use of De Niro’s evocative voiceover, and the focus on NYC’s multicultural nature, expands the demographic which the advert is likely to draw in. American Express is then introduced subtly at the end, tying the product to the Oscar-winning actor, and the famed city. It’s an almost flawless piece of advertising.

Smirnoff: ‘Smarienberg’ – Directed by Michel Gondry

Whilst Vodka brands like Grey Goose have focused their advertising on superior taste, the same tack would likely have failed for the more inexpensive, non-premium Smirnoff. So, the focus is distilled (pardon the pun) down to one element – excitement. The advert works as a stylish action piece, frequently cutting scene to give an all-action feel reminiscent of early Tarantino. Less whimsical than Gondry’s film work, the rebellious, slightly surreal aesthetic worked for Smirnoff, and is still visible in their recent ‘The Apple Bite’ ad campaign for Smirnoff’s apple vodka.

Nespresso: ‘Like a Star’ – Starring George Clooney

Giving star power a self-deprecating touch provided a wonderful springboard for Nespresso’s latest ad campaign. Nespresso promote their ability to make all their customers feel ‘special’ through a campaign which comically undercuts the Oscar winner’s fame. The use of a subversive twist is used to great effect here – George (we’re on first name terms) is invited into a closed Nespresso shop with the words “only because it’s you, Mr. Clooney”. It all seems rather cloying, until the same invitation is given to the next customer, who obliviously tells Clooney “when I come here, I always feel like a star. Don’t you?”. It’s an understated and subtle, yet genuinely persuasive piece of advertising.