The best ad ever? Leave Nothing, by Michael Mann

I love TV ads. I used to be teased because I would mute TV shows and put the sound on for good ads.

Unlike TV shows, ads have alot to do in just 30 seconds, and they have to do it flawlessly. Directed well, they are 30 seconds films. One particular 30 second film, Leave Nothing by Michael Mann, is my favourite. I even prefer it to the 1984 Apple ad by Ridley Scott, which I have admired since….1984!

Leave Nothing is brilliant. For U.S. football fans, there is the amazing spectacle of Shawn Merriman mowing down players in the first part– including a spectacular hit midway– before knocking the ball over to Steven Jackson who heroically drives the ball home for the touchdown (and even that is well done, since you end up visualize the TD: it’s not shown). And the amazing computer generated graphics that allow the players and the weather to switch seamlessly is wonderful. Mann holds this all together and what’s more manages to shoot Merriman and Jackson in this seamless tracking shot in which they are all over place (just watch Merriman as he weaves back and forth across the field).

However, one thing about this that I think is brilliant may not seem obvious at first. And that is the sound. Watch it without the sound, and then with the sound, and you will hear how well the sound underlines everything.  You can hear the rain pelting down, the snow squalls, the smashing of equipment and the grunts and breathing of the players. The score – apparently from The Last of the Mohicans (another Mann film) — starts imperceptibly and then swells up to the last few seconds of the ad, before the words “Leave Nothing” flash on screen and then all you hear is the wind.

It’s a masterpiece. And it’s half a minute long.

Michael Mann, if you don’t know, directed such great work as “The Jericho Mile”, “Thief”, “Ali”, “Collateral” and “Miami Vice”. And he directed this.

If you want to know more about the making of this, go here

And of course, now you want to see it! You can see it the Nike ad “Leave Nothing” @ Transbuddha.

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