Chrysler, “It’s Halftime in America”
Clint Eastwood + a great American auto brand + the 2012 Super Bowl = a classic patriotic spot, though not one without controversy. Some saw Eastwood's hardboiled speech about "halftime in America" as a tacit endorsement of President Obama. Others simply saw a beautifully crafted masterpiece of a spot from Wieden + Kennedy that dared to go beyond advertising—and join the national conversation about something bigger.
Dodge Challenger, “Freedom”
George Washington sends the Redcoats fleeing as he charges their line in a Dodge Challenger in this amusing 2010 spot by Wieden + Kennedy. Wonderfully shot. Not quite historically accurate. Great Michael C. Hall voiceover at the end.
Chevrolet, “Our Country”
This 2006 Campbell-Ewald ad is one of the most fully realized Americana spots ever made. John Mellencamp sings "Our Country" for Chevrolet as a parade of American clichés filter through. It was controversial for including images of Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr., who didn't realize they were selling trucks at the time.
Levi’s, “America (Go Forth)”
Another memorable Wieden + Kennedy ad, this one for Levi's featured a recording of the great American poet Walt Whitman reading from his poem titled, yes, "America."
Brand USA, “Land of Dreams”
Roseanne Cash sang for America this past April in the U.S.'s first major tourism spot to roll out overseas. The ad, from JWT in New York, featured imagery and themes you've seen plenty of times before, but the visuals—New York, New Orleans, the mountains, valleys, fields and beaches—are pretty impressive.
Anheuser-Busch, “Heroes Salute”
Throughout the wars of the past decade, many advertisers have thanked American troops in their ads. This 2005 Super Bowl spot from DDB and Joe Pytka set the bar for the genre.
American Airlines, “Putting Them First”
This 2010 American Airlines spot from TM Advertising offered another great salute to U.S. troops. An old white man (perhaps a World War II veteran) salutes a young black female solider in an airport. Quiet, subtle and superb.
Budweiser, “9/11 Tribute”
During the 2002 Super Bowl, just months after 9/11, Budweiser aired a spot from Hill Holliday in which the Clydesdales travel to New York and pay their respects by genuflecting in the direction of the Statue of Liberty and Ground Zero. The version below, which aired on the 10th anniversary, included a shot of the Freedom Tower being built.
IAVA/Ad Council, “Alone”
The Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), in conjunction with the Ad Council, released this eerie PSA from BBDO New York in 2008. It's a patriotic spot but a complicated one—America seems foreign to the returning U.S. soldier at first, but with help from the IAVA, he realizes he is not alone.
Ad Council, “I Am an American”
After 9/11, GSD&M created a PSA for the Ad Council emphasizing the diversity of American citizens and the need to unite as one. Simple and powerful, it revealed truths that are indeed self-evident. Like the Bud spot, the clip below is also the 10th anniversary version.