By 2011, director Rob Zombie was gearing up for his return to feature films. In the meantime, he turned his attention towards a potential side-career in the commercial sector—a reliable, lucrative scenario for the right person. Commercials are a relatively anonymous medium, where the director has to forsake his or her aesthetic in order to convey a given brand’s character and image. Since Zombie’s aesthetic is so well-defined, one can see how he’d be a tough sell to ad agencies. Ironically, it was the agencies that sought him out so he could replicate his style for them.
WOOLITE: “TORTURE” (2011)
Zombie’s first commercial was for detergent brand Woolite, with the conceit being: what does it look like when Leatherface from THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE does his laundry? Understandably, he’d be a complete psycho about it, so “logically”, he needed some heavy duty detergent. Zombie creates a grungy, old-fashioned vibe that steals from that seminal 70’s horror classic as well as some of the new standard-bearers of the recent “torture porn” craze like SAW (2004) or HOSTEL (2005). As a first commercial, “TORTURE” is pretty effective and entertaining. For a mild-mannered detergent brand, the concept is pretty out there.
AMDRO CAMPAIGN: “DEATH NOTE”, “DARK ROOM”, & “THE ANTS GO MARCHING” (2012)
In 2012, Zombie created a three-spot campaign for the bug-killing spray Amdro. All three spots follow the same conceit, with a crazed maniac sitting in a basement, putting together a master plan of devious concoctions and murderous treachery—only to reveal that it’s all so he/she can kill the bugs infesting his/her suburban lawns. The spots are lit in a low-key noir style, with lurid colored lights adding to the grungy basement vibe. Zombie also employs several jump cuts to convey a twisted, shattered psyche. “DEATH NOTE” in particular is notable for the casting of Clint Howard, who has appeared in several Zombie films previously.
Zombie’s commercial work is intriguing for the very notion that he uses his uncompromising visual style for comedic effect. These four spots are indicative of a rejuvenated Zombie, more energetic than he’s been in quite some time. To me, it seems that Zombie is beginning to shake out of his funk at this point, entering into a leaner, more inspired phase of his career.