Visionary director David Lynch has created some of the most terrifying, surreal images in cinema, from a dancing dream dwarf in Twin Peaks to that severed ear in a field in Blue Velvet. So he might seem like an unlikely choice to direct a series of commercials for Clear Blue Easy One Minute home pregnancy tests, but that’s exactly what he did in 1997.
The moody, black and white ad shows a nervous-looking woman waiting for the results of the test. In those agonizing moments, the face of her watch reads ‘yes’ and ‘no’ instead of numbers – reflecting her anxiety.
While this commercial might seem tame for Lynch, it is thematically similar to his other work. His early masterpiece Eraserhead is a bizzaro fever dream about the abject terror of parenthood.
“The client was a little nervous that the spot would be eerie and scary,” David Cohen, executive producer of the ad, said to Entertainment Weekly’s A.J. Jacob. “But on the set, Lynch was constantly making sure the client was happy.”
In fact, Lynch has had a whole second career as a commercial director, making ads for Nissan, PlayStation and one incredibly freaky PSA about the evils of littering. He also directed a surprisingly literary series of commercials for Calvin Klein using text penned by such luminaries as F. Scott Fitzgerald and D.H. Lawrence. We’ll post something about those next week.
Jonathan Crow is a Los Angeles-based writer and filmmaker whose work has appeared in Yahoo!, The Hollywood Reporter, and other publications. You can follow him at @jonccrow.