Celebrity commercials are a real treat. ESPECIALLY the ones from Japan. Here are my picks for the 10 best commercials with celebrities from the late ’90s to the early ’00s. Be warned that some of these videos look like they were filmed on a calculator.
10. Nicolas Cage, Sankyo Pachinko
Nicolas Cage is driving down a long highway in a cowboy hat when suddenly a silver robot appears, blocking his path. Cage gets out of the car and yells at the robot, with a Southern accent because he’s Nicolas Cage and he does whatever he wants. More silver robots appear and start dancing. Cage joins them.
You will see Nicolas Cage appear on this list again.
9. Britney Spears, UHA Mikakuto Gummy Candy
Another classic from Japan. Britney Spears, in full-on 1999 mode, dances on her private jet to her song “Sometimes” and feeds her bodyguard candy. Then they dance. Because Japan.
8. Jimmy Fallon and Parker Posey, Pepsi
I remember when this aired, a lot of people thought it was annoying. I loved it, though admittedly once the song got in your head, it wouldn’t go away for a very long time. This commercial features even more celebrities dancing, but this time in the streets of New York. And no one even honks at them. That’s the power of Pepsi.
7. Juliette Lewis and Daft Punk, Gap
This commercial combines what I’m now realizing are my favorite things in celebrity commercials: dancing and robots. This commercial was very effective in that it made me want to do Juliette Lewis’ robot moves wherever I could — at clubs, at parties, at the gas station waiting for my tank to fill up — but was ineffective in that it did not make me want to buy Gap jeans.
6. Michael J. Fox, Japanese energy drink
I really love Michael J. Fox. He was one of my first big celebrity crushes. I think anyone though can appreciate this commercial in which Fox maniacally runs around trimming garden hedges into animals. He stops to sip this Japanese drink and deliver a smarmy, “Good afternoon.” Then a large woman appears and makes the decision that no, this will not do, and chases him. It doesn’t make any more sense when you watch it. Unless you understand Japanese. But maybe not even then.
5. Audrey Hepburn, Gap
When this came out, people either loved it or hated it, because how dare we use our beloved, blessed, Godlike Audrey Hepburn to sell Gap pants? many argued. Because shut up, that’s why. From an advertising standpoint, this commercial was pure genius. Audrey steps out of a scene from Funny Face to rock out to AC/DC’s “Back In Black.” The ad was selling skinny black pants. This commercial did make me go to The Gap, but I thought I looked fat in the pants so I didn’t buy them. But I did buy the black turtleneck. Okay, my mom bought the black turtleneck and I borrowed it from her. Forever. And I lost it. And I’m sorry.
4. Paul McCartney, iTunes
This commercial looks so cool. I don’t know what they used to make this effect. Some sort of rotoscoping technique? I can’t really describe it. Paul McCartney plays the ukulele while looking adorable. I’m biased because I’m a Paul fan, but really, if this commercial doesn’t make you smile, you need to chill your inner Tom Riddle.
3. Spice Girls, Pepsi
Classic Pepsi commercial. No one likes Pepsi, but they like their commercials, and that’s because they’re great. Pepsi signs a massive pop star to sing a few seconds of their biggest hit and they drink Pepsi and that’s it. And it works. Except for the Britney Spears Pepsi commercial that featured Bob Dole. That one made everybody uncomfortable.
2. David Bowie, Vittel Water
David Bowie is my absolute favorite so he’s taking the #2 spot because this is my list, but this really is a great commercial. Bowie walks through his house where he encounters his past personas, like Ziggy Stardust and The Thin White Duke. They’re all played by a spot-on David Bowie impersonator. My favorite part is when Bowie goes into the bathroom and finds Ziggy Stardust/Aladdin Sane blow drying his hair. Bowie rolls his eyes and shuts the door. At the end, Bowie looks at the camera and says, “Ssshhh” with a finger pressed to his lips, leaving us with a vaguely unsettling implication that David Bowie is holding a group of David Bowies hostage.
1. Nicolas Cage, Sankyo Pachinko
“Does Nicolas Cage really need to be on this list again, and for the same product?” you may be asking. Yes and yes. And yes. This is the best thing Nicolas Cage has ever done. The commercial opens with Nicolas Cage fooling around on a piano. Cage looks at the camera says, “Oh hi, I’m Nicolas Cage” as he takes off his sunglasses, because of course he’s wearing sunglasses indoors while playing the piano. He tells us he is going to play a song he wrote about his favorite things. These favorite things include “a redheaded girl”, “a slow-burning candle” and “a dance with a reindeer.” Why are you reading this instead of watching it?
Bonus: David Lynch’s fake iPhone “commercial”
This is not a commercial, it’s more of an anti-commercial/spoof in which David Lynch goes on a short rant about why it’s stupid to watch a movie on your phone. Warning: there is cursing. Not a lot, but enough to keep you from playing this for a group of kindergartners. Which I know you would normally do, because if there’s one thing kindergartners love, it’s David Lynch.