Super Bowl commercials have become almost as big a deal as the game. With 30-second spots now selling for around $4 million and replaying in perpetuity on YouTube, every advertisement is the marketing equivalent of third down and long. That’s why big brands bring in big names to quarterback their shoots. Famous directors attract celebrity endorsements, know how to manage a massive budget, and bring their own credibility.
Here are the best Super Bowl commercials shot by notable Hollywood directors.
Director: Ridley Scott
Spot: “Why 1984 Won’t Be Like 1984″
In the early Eighties, Scott was famous the world over for his dystopic fantasies. Alien had been a smash success, and Blade Runner had raked in both money and plaudits. Apple bought two 30-second slots and let the director do his thing. The result was a Steve Jobs–sanctioned critique of computing’s status quo.
Director: Zack Snyder
Before he’d made a name for himself as the slo-mo action sequence director par excellence with 300 and Watchmen, Zack Snyder directed numerous dynamic commercials for high-profile clients. Strangely, his most famous ad is one of the subtlest commercials to ever air during the Super Bowl. It shows the Budweiser Clydesdales making a trip to New York to mourn the victims of 9/11.
Director: Jon Favreau
Spot: “The Big Pitch”
Though he was best known as the director of Iron Man, Jon Favreau went back to his indie roots for Samsung in this meta-ad that sees Paul Rudd and Seth Rogen pitching the South Korean phone maker. The ad, which also features comic mainstay Bob Odenkirk, consists primarily of men bantering – not unlike 1996’s Swingers.
Director: Clint Eastwood
Spot: “Halftime in America”
This spot by the director of Million Dollar Baby, Mystic River, and Flags of Our Fathers was so serious that it stopped many football fans in their tracks. The fact that Eastwood chose to star in it as well made sense. No one does gravitas like the Man with No Name.
Director: David Fincher
Spot: “Beer Run”
Fresh off the massive success of Se7en and Fight Club, Fincher and his muse, Brad Pitt, teamed up to skewer celebrity culture while shilling for beer makers. Despite its lighthearted tone, the commercial is set in an unnamed and unwelcoming city bathed in ominous darkness. Though the ad doesn’t make it explicitly clear who Pitt is speaking to on the phone, it seems likely that he’s calling his longtime collaborator.
Director: Peter Berg
Spot: “Got Milk”
Client: America’s Milk Processors
The Lone Survivor director went all in with a lactic-action sequence starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as a father trying to make sure his daughter and her friends get enough protein with their breakfast. The fast moving commercial has far more in common with Battleship, the movie Berg was wrapping when it aired, than with the hyper-realistic violence that followed.