Chuck McBride’s thoughts on where the next adverti

Chuck McBride’s thoughts on where the next advertising hits will come from may surprise you. Before long, he says, ads for packaged goods like toilet paper and laundry detergent—not clever TV spots from a startup tech firm—will produce the cultural icons of the future.

“People are finally going to say, ‘Let’s try to do a great soap ad,’ ” explains McBride, recently named North American creative director for TBWA\Chiat\Day, making him heir apparent to Lee Clow at the venerable agency. “Sure, it’s great to have new products, but I would rather see the floor raised than the ceiling punched.”

McBride joined TBWA\C\D’s San Francisco office from Wieden + Kennedy in Portland, Ore., last fall, quickly got to work and hasn’t looked back. Due in part to his efforts, the 2-year-old office is expanding, Levi’s is no longer ignored by the under-30 set and companies like OmniSky are known outside Silicon Valley. Even though $20 million client Pets.com closed shop, the sock puppet became a celebrity.

To cap it off, McBride won an Emmy in August for the Nike commercial “Morning After,” which he wrote and creative directed at Wieden. Directed by Spike Jonze, whom McBride often works with, the spot poked fun at Y2K disaster predictions with images of an athlete concentrating on his morning run in an apocalyptic San Francisco.

When Clow, chairman and chief creative officer for TBWA Worldwide, approached McBride about the executive creative director position in San Francisco, McBride knew the expectations were high. Clow told him he thought the 37-year-old copywriter could improve the Northern California office.

McBride has tried to boost overall creativity by concentrating on individual ads. When he arrived, he says, the agency was so consumed by the stress of working on marquee accounts that it was hard to get anything done.

“Levi’s was difficult,” he says of the account he also worked on earlier in his career at FCB Worldwide. “What we had to say is that it’s as easy as doing another great ad. That way, we could win back the trust of the client.”

McBride says he’s tried to energize the creative department by hiring trusted senior talents such as copywriter Jon Soto and art director Eric King. Standards are tougher and work more closely scrutinized.

McBride counts Levi’s “Make Them Your Own” campaign, showing people trying on the jeans in a dressing room and singing karaoke, and the futuristic PlayStation 2 branding spot among his favorites. “Hiring a few key people has made the difference,” he says. “You can watch a lot of things start to turn.”

With McBride’s recent promotion, the agency’s other U.S. offices may be next.