When it comes to advertisements, Sony has never played it safe. During the PS1 era, they had Crash Bandicoot to infiltrate Nintendo headquarters, created an anti-Playstation activist group, and inexplicably transformed a Scottish girl into an alien. Their early ads ranged from ballsy to downright disturbing.
So naturally, when it came time to promote the PlayStation 2, surrealist filmmaker David Lynch seemed like the perfect choice.
Lynch teamed with the London brand of TWBA to create a concept called “The Third Place,” a mysterious world that could only be accessed through PlayStation consoles. “The Third Place is not up nor down, not waking or sleeping, not the past; not the present,” explained the commercial’s creative director Trevor Beattie. “It’s a third thing.”
While many directors might have balked at the concept, Lynch relished the opportunity to bring this strange realm to life. Although the completed commercial was only a minute long, Lynch managed to work in all kinds bizarre effects, from floating heads to severed arms to a suit-clad man with the head of a duck (voiced by Lynch himself). The finished product is reminiscent of both Eraserhead and Twin Peaks‘ Black Lodge.
Although Lynch only shot one commercial for Sony, a number of other PlayStation commercials have been attributed to Lynch as well. On YouTube, Lynch is named as the director of dozens of PS2 ads, including Tim Hope‘s excellent Wolfman short:
Given Lynch’s reputation, it’s not hard to see how so many commercials wound up miscredited. Someone reads that Lynch did a PS2 commercial, encounters a strange ad, and assumes that Lynch must have been responsible. But while Lynch’s name has become synonymous with all things surreal, Sony has never needed his help to be weird.