Wes Anderson’s Commercials (2004-2007)

Following the release of 2004’s THE LIFE AQUATIC WITH STEVE ZISSOU, director Wes Anderson found his particular aesthetic as a much sought-after commodity in the advertising world.  While he would remain absent from the big screen for the next three years, the rising indie star busied himself with several works for the small screen.


American Express has a history of collaborating with prominent artists– just look at any of their spots with Martin Scorsese.  Anderson joined this tradition in 2004 when he shot “MY LIFE, MY CARD”.  The spot, which initially aired in cinemas, aims to recreate the offbeat energy and characterization of Anderson’s feature work while implying that they are really a reflection of Anderson’s own idiosyncratic reality.  The spot features frequent Anderson collaborators both on and behind the camera, including actors Jason Schwartzman and Waris Ahluwahlia, writing partner Roman Coppola, producer Barry Mendel, and cinematographer Robert Yeoman.  The piece channels the bourgeois Europhile aesthetic that began to bloom in Anderson’s work during this period while imitating the director’s signature visuals to the point of parody. The yellow-tinged Futura typeface, flat compositions, lateral two-dimensional camera moves, whip-pans, stuffing lots of people and business inside the frame… it’s all here.  Anderson’s stagecraft affectations are present in the context of the artifice inherent in a large-scale film shoot.  Out of all the commercials Anderson has directed in his career, “MY LIFE MY CARD” is arguably his best and most memorable.



In 2005, Anderson teamed up with water bottler Dasani for a pair of spots called “HAMSTER” and “BEAR”.  Each piece features an actor in a cheap Halloween costume version of their respective spots’ animals as they declare their love for Dasani water.  Anderson’s stagecraft sensibilities manifest in cross-sectional sets that allows Anderson to follow his subjects with lateral two-dimensional camera moves and whip pans.


In 2007, Anderson created a series of spots for the AT&T “YOUR SEAMLESS WORLD” campaign.  The spots focus on a variety of interesting occupations– a student, a reporter, a mom, an architect, an actor, and a salesman– and explains how their respective expertise is shaped by A&T technology.  The campaign plays as distinctly Anderson-ian thanks to the speakers travelling through a series of flat diorama-esque tableaus filled with offbeat activity.  Anderson’s camera moves laterally through the various vignettes, but the subject’s position in the frame stays static.  The stagecraft-y, self-aware proscenium feel inherent in Anderson’s aesthetic is heavily present in this campaign, making for a playful and technically dazzling series of spots.