The Best (and Worst) Ads Either Made or Inspired by Wes Anderson

Slate's Culture Blog
Dec. 28 2011 3:06 PM

The Worst Wes Anderson-Inspired Ad Yet

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As Elbert Ventura pointed out in Slate a couple years ago, Wes Anderson’s stylistic tics have crept into pop culture like those of few other directors. (Ventura argued that Anderson had surpassed Tarantino as the go-to indie touchstone for “every NYU graduate and Sundance contender.”) It’s now been four years since Anderson released a live-action film (2007’s The Darjeeling Limited; his 2009 film, Fantastic Mr. Fox, utilized stop-motion animation), but a new Miller Lite ad suggests that paying homage to the director is still a popular shortcut to what companies presumably hope will halfway resemble hipster cred:

That this rather uninspired 30-second spot is intended as an Anderson homage is given away not only by the slo-mo strut scored to “Making Time” by the Creation—a song that appeared in Rushmore—but also by the guy (pictured above) whose brown suit and shaggy, strawberry-blond hair are almost certainly a nod to the director.

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I enjoy commercial homages to beloved filmmakers—especially when they’re done by Anderson himself: The American auteur, who has directed several ads, used spots for American Express and a Japanese cell phone company as excuses to pay tribute to two of his favorite French filmmakers: François Truffaut and Jacques Tati, respectively.

But as those ads suggest, homages can and should be so much better than this one. And you needn’t be a filmmaker on the level of Anderson to pull it off: Consider the Geico spot from a few years back that alluded to Anderson with its precocious child narrator and prominent use of go-cart racing. (A surprising number of commercial directors seem to associate Anderson largely with kids and cars; see also the ads made for Hummer and Cars.com.) You don’t even need a big, corporate-provided budget: Witness this passable 2008 take on what an Anderson-directed McCain-for-President ad might look like.

Happily for Anderson fans, the director’s next live-action film is not too far off: Moonrise Kingdom, with its swoon-inducing cast (including Bruce Willis, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton, and Ed Norton, alongside Anderson-mainstay Bill Murray) is scheduled to arrive in theaters in 2012. Perhaps it will remind all the ad-makers out there how Anderson really does it.

Further viewing: My favorite commercial by Wes Anderson is the very amusing one below, made for IKEA. Enjoy.

David Haglund is a senior editor at Slate. He runs Brow Beat, Slate's culture blog.