In Today’s Super Bowl Quickfire Q+A, a Brand Union Exec Just Gives Us the Faves

By Kiran Aditham 


No need for drivel because we’re sure you know the score if you’ve been checking out the site this week. As we lead up to Super Bowl XLVII, the agency feedback keeps pouring in. This time, Jamie Ambler, executive creative director at WPP-owned The Brand Union makes it quick and painless, giving us his list of favorite Big Game ads and why they’re on it.

Some of the Best Super Bowl Spots


I learned a long time ago that when you work in advertising, people expect you to watch and critique the Super Bowl commercials. This includes relatives and friends who want to know if you worked on any of them. “Hey, did you do that commercial with the lizard for Geico?” (I wish).  Or, “I love that beer commercial with the guy at the party–did you do that?”

As a creative in advertising, the worst thing you can say on the day after the big game is that you weren’t really paying much attention to the commercials. I confess that I actually have said that. No apologies, though. Some years, they’re generally terrible, with a few bright spots, and other years, they’re way more entertaining than the lopsided games.

Here are some of my favorite Super Bowl commercials and a thought about the forgettable ones:

 Chrysler – “Halftime in America”

Before Clint Eastwood was pointing at empty chairs, he was pointing out to America that we’re a country of great strength, resolve and resilience. “Halftime in America” reintroduced our country to these themes, and to the city of Detroit, once great and now poised for a return to that past. The entire commercial, from the casting of Eastwood (Republican convention aside, the perfect choice to deliver this message) to the script to the simple, understated art direction had my attention. This is one commercial that I believe may have actually swayed Americans into buying cars from Detroit.  And “Imported from Detroit” was exactly the right line for it.

E*Trade – “Baby Rents a Clown”

The E*Trade babies make me laugh every time I see them. They’ve changed over time, with some of the babies—particularly the little guy in this spot—being funnier than others. But these commercials are pretty consistently funny, entertaining and actually informative. They give you the sense that even an idiot like you (meaning me) could make decent money with E*Trade’s help. If the people who work for E*Trade are even half as smart as these babies, sign me up. – “When I Grow Up”

This commercial should be shown at every grade school and high school assembly in America. Everything about it is spot on: the simple language, the pointed and poignant message and wait—it’s also laugh-out-loud funny. There are a number of parodies of the spot on YouTube, some even rival the original. And that’s the sign of a great ad too—everyone wants to do a version.

Apple – “1984”

Of course it’s an obvious choice.  Like seeing Citizen Kane listed as the best movie ever made year after year.  I don’t agree with that choice for best movie, but 1984 stands out, and has stood the test of time.  It’s a clear example of how Apple got it right, right from the start. I don’t remember any commercial that was ever talked about as much the next day or envied as much by the people and companies who didn’t do it.

And the Worst

A lot of spots could fill this paragraph. You all pretty much know what they are. But I think about the people who made them, the heart they put into them and the obstacles they faced. Round after round of presentations, suggestions, edits, rewrites – yada, yada yada.  It’s a major accomplishment to get a spot aired on the Super Bowl.  If you were on a team that created ‘one of the worst,’ consider yourself lucky to have gotten that far. And do a better job next time.

If there is a next time.