Agency: Wieden + Kennedy. Fincher has had a long relationship with Wieden + Kennedy, for whom he has directed a sprawling number of Nike ads over the years. "Speed Chain" is a fun departure from his football-focused work, and one of three ads by Fincher—in one year alone—to be honored for outstanding directorial achievement in commercials by the Directors Guild of America.
Agency: Goodby, Silverstein & Partners. "We wanted a director who could illustrate a change of business in a way that hadn't been done before," Goodby producer Josh Reynolds told Adweek in 2004, "and David rose right to the top." Fincher's spot for HP used a bevy of high-tech tricks to create the illusion of time passing while seamlessly showing the same character moving across the screen. All these years later, it's still a great effect.
Agency: Mother London. Definitely one of Fincher's oddest ads, this British spot for high-fashion phone maker Xelibri shows a world in which catwalk models secretly look like schlubs thanks to removable skin. Don't feel bad if you have to watch it a few times to understand what's going on.
Agency: Wieden + Kennedy. In the early 1990s, commercial soundtracks were mostly made up of cheesy jingles and hair-band knockoffs. Fincher sliced through the clutter by using John Lennon's "Instant Karma," a pitch-perfect fit for Nike's mission to celebrate athletes across all sports. What made the choice more surprising was that it came so soon after Nike's nightmarish legal battle in 1987 over its use of the Beatles' "Revolution." This time, Yoko Ono owned the song outright, and she reportedly donated the six-figure licensing fee to the United Negro College Fund.
Agency: Foote, Cone & Belding. One of Fincher's first ads after his Hollywood success with 1995's Seven, this spot, called "The Chase," almost seems to foreshadow the dark, urban adrenaline rush that he would create with Michael Douglas in 1997's The Game.
Agency: Wieden + Kennedy. For the 2005 Super Bowl, Fincher partnered with his Seven and Fight Club star Brad Pitt to create a celebrity slice-of-life story centered on Heineken. The result has Fincher's signature darkness, but also a warmth and humanity that you won't find in most of his work, advertising or otherwise.
Agency: McCann Erickson Japan. Sure, the dystopian sci-fi vibe and renegade rollerbladers make this spot seem pretty dated, but the visual style and well-crafted storytelling still hold up. Made for Coke in Japan, "Bladeroller" was later brought to New York as the first TV ad in the Museum of Mordern Art's permanent collection.
Agency: 180 Amsterdam. Hoping to create suitable fanfare for Motorola's long-awaited follow-up to the RAZR, Fincher and 180 Amsterdam created a surprisingly epic Super Bowl ad for the new PEBL smartphone. Instead of showing off its features or even lingering on its minimalist design, Fincher portrayed it as a device forged by nature itself over thousands of years. The result somehow comes across as both grandiose and understated, which you could say is typical Fincher.
Agency: TBWA\Chiat\Day, San Francisco. For someone with a portfolio of Nike ads spanning three decades, it's almost shocking that Fincher would have created one of his best spots for Adidas. But 2002's "Mechanical Legs" is a visual triumph, one made through a careful collaboration of motion capture and CGI. Fincher manages to create an amazing ad for basketball shoes without showing one player or one basketball.
Agency: Wieden + Kennedy. Fincher has done a lot of great football ads for Nike, but "Fate: Leave Nothing" is simply a masterpiece. He tells the story of two rising NFL greats, LaDainian Tomlinson and Troy Polamalu, in a way that's personal, powerful and entrancing. No faux-philosophical narration. No swaggering athlete egos. Just a wonderfully told story that reminds us we're all human beings with hopes and hearts—even gloomy old David Fincher.