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Quiet on Set: The Making of a Super Bowl Commercial

An inside look at Buick’s first Super Bowl commercial with Leo Burnett Detroit CCO Steve Chavez and veteran Super Bowl spot director Erich Joiner.

The stakes are always high when it comes to the Super Bowl. It’s an event a year in the making, with lofty goals to achieve, fans to keep happy and millions of people watching. Oh, and the football teams are under a lot of pressure, too.

As an agency executive or a commercial director, that pressure is magnified when it’s a brand’s very first Super Bowl spot.

For Buick, it was in very good hands with two industry veterans leading its big-game debut for “Wedding,” its spot supporting the Cascada, the carmaker’s first convertible in 25 years.

Watch the interview above on set with Steve Chavez, Leo Burnett Detroit’s chief creative officer, who shares why Erich Joiner was the perfect choice to direct the spot. Read the Q&A below with Joiner, director and founder of Tool of North America, for insight on the advertising event of the year.

Be sure to see our Q&A with Buick Director of Marketing Molly Peck, and our album of behind-the-scenes shots from the Buick shoot on our Facebook. Also, see Steve’s creative essentials on our Instagram.

Erich Joiner, “Wedding” director and founder, Tool of North America.

You’re a veteran when it comes to making Super Bowl commercials. Do you think there’s a secret formula for producing a Super Bowl spot? What makes a Super Bowl spot win?
At the end of the day, especially during the Super Bowl, it’s important the final product is entertaining. The formula is all about taking a very specific, strategic message the client wants to communicate, collaborating with key stakeholders on the idea — client, agency, production company, Director — and presenting it in an entertaining manner.

What are some challenges you face in making Super Bowl ads?
One of the biggest challenges is the simple fact that there are a lot of eyes on a Super Bowl commercial and you want to make sure you’re conveying the right message. It also needs to be incredibly entertaining. It’s important to make sure that everyone involved is getting what they need and no detail is overlooked.

Take the Buick spot for example. We have people on set who solely focus on everything from the angle of the car and the actors’ performances to managing the celebrities, to lighting and editing, to visual effects and the list goes on — it’s a big production and all of these things have to come together just right to develop the ideal commercial.

Do you predict any trends for spots this year in the game?
It felt like last year’s spots were less comedic overall. The commercials were more sincere and tugged at your heartstrings. I think this year we’ll see the trend stepping back to smart comedy.