Watch the Coen Brothers’ TV Commercials: Swiss Cigarettes, Gap Jeans, Taxes & Clean Coal

Rais­ing Ari­zona; The Big Lebows­ki; O Broth­er, Where Art Thou? — Joel and Ethan Coen have made more than a few movies not just wide­ly beloved, but also wide­ly thought of as eccen­tric. One thus would­n’t imag­ine their sen­si­bil­i­ty trans­lat­ing well to adver­tis­ing, that means of occa­sion­al sup­port for many an uncom­pro­mis­ing auteur. But just as the Coen broth­ers have brought Hol­ly­wood at least par­tial­ly over to their way of cre­at­ing, they’ve also, on sev­er­al occa­sions, bent the form of the com­mer­cial to their advan­tage.

Take the Coen broth­ers’ Parisi­enne cig­a­rette com­mer­cial at the top, pre­vi­ous­ly fea­tured here on Open Cul­ture (along­side David LynchEmir Kus­turi­caRoman Polan­s­ki and, Jean-Luc Godard’s work for the same appar­ent­ly auteur-lov­ing brand). But if they felt guilty about thus encour­ag­ing the befoul­ing of the air, they sure­ly cleared their own con­sciences with the satir­i­cal spot about “clean coal” just above. And in the slight­ly more straight­for­ward Gap ad below, they used the main­stream-yet-alter­na­tive icons Christi­na Ric­ci and Den­nis Hop­per:

And even if you keep up with the Coen broth­ers’ short film work, you may nev­er have seen the spot below, which orig­i­nal­ly aired dur­ing the 2002 Super Bowl. Work­ing for H&R Block, they use per­haps the least promis­ing set­ting imag­in­able, a slow-mov­ing tax law lec­ture, to cre­ate a dystopi­an vision not a mil­lion miles from the one Rid­ley Scott used to intro­duce the Apple Mac­in­tosh eigh­teen Super Bowls before.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Cig­a­rette Com­mer­cials from David Lynch, the Coen Broth­ers and Jean Luc Godard

Tui­leries: A Short, Slight­ly Twist­ed Film by Joel and Ethan Coen

World Cin­e­ma: Joel and Ethan Coen’s Play­ful Homage to Cin­e­ma His­to­ry

Col­in Mar­shall hosts and pro­duces Note­book on Cities and Cul­ture as well as the video series The City in Cin­e­ma and writes essays on cities, lan­guage, Asia, and men’s style. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­les, A Los Ange­les Primer. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall or on Face­book.

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.