In another spot, an old lady won't return a Black & Decker power tool she has borrowed from her unhinged neighbour. Usually, the joke with older people in commercials is that they're breakdancing, Shane says. "But this character is just a badass. She had a steely edge to her, yet was so sweet-looking."
Comedy is Shane's forte: "I admire people who do straight drama, but I think it's much easier to slip in a moment of pathos when you're surrounded by funny stuff."
His ads for the pet charity BCSPCA exemplify this. The tagline is "some things you can only do with a pet" and, in Shane's personal favourite, a man comes up behind his wife when she's looking in the fridge. He starts nuzzling her and calling her "chubby" in a high-pitched voice. "It was a delicate balance of genuine sweetness on the one hand and cruelty on the other," Shane says. The ads picked up a gold Lion at Cannes this year.
Shane, who started out as a copywriter at Chiat Day and became a director via work on South Park, worked with dogs again when shooting a spot for Animal Planet. It featured the bizarre things people do with their dogs, including aerobics, blow-drying hair and eating chocolate. Where did he find his inspiration? "We asked people in London what they do with their dogs and tried to be tender. We weren't asking the dogs to do anything out of their nature," he insists.
Shane praises the scripts for the ESPN spots he directed, including one with the cyclist Lance Armstrong locked in a boiler room, pedalling to generate power for the building.
Timing was of the essence again for eBay, which shows a house and its contents collapsing to the tune Que Sera Sera. As everything was being trashed, the luxury of being able to re-shoot was taken away. "We destroyed everything," Shane recalls. "Luckily, they had money."
Yet Shane could have easily found himself bankrupt after he shot his first ad for MTV and based the rock 'n' roll accountant, Matty Griper, on his own accountant, Matty Griper. "He is exactly like that, we didn't exaggerate a thing," Shane says. Needless to say, the real rock 'n' roll accountant failed to see the funny side ...
- David Shane was talking to Lucy Aitken.