While Tony Scott’s first credited commercial is for DIM Underwear in 1979, his epic spot for Saab is his first publicly available commercial work (as far as I’m aware). It’s notable mainly for the fact that it would later secure him the job of director for 1986’s TOP GUN. That said, there’s some striking elements that would later find their way into the feature film.
As his slick visuals are highly suited towards commercial work, it’s no surprise that Scott is behind some of the most iconic commercials of all time. After his work on THE HUNGER (1983), Saab contracted Scott to direct their “NOTHING ON EARTH COMES CLOSE” spot. The concept is very simple: the utilization of a series of parallel cuts that favorably compare a Saab car to the sleek lines and powerful performance of a fighter jet.
Atmospheric visuals, slow-motion walking, aviator shades, the fetishization of a plane’s elegantly sculpted steel…. all the hallmarks later found in TOP GUN are present here. What is interesting is the dreary weather present— one would think that Scott would have sprung for dramatic sunset shots on a clear day. Whether intentional or an inevitable occurrence on the day of the shoot, the overcast weather doesn’t put a damper on the spot’s high-soaring spirits.
As most commercial work inevitably becomes, the spot comes off as incredibly dated and even a little cheesy. That’s to be expected. If anything, the spot captures a certain mid-80’s zeitgeist, and is an intriguing preview of the career-making film that Scott would soon embark on making.
“Nothing On Earth Comes Close” is available in its entirety via YouTube.