Little brings Americans together more closely than excessively large men religiously pummeling each other on a very specific Sunday.
Somehow, the Super Bowl enchants in a way few other events can.
The business world became aware of this with its usual greedy alacrity. If brands could somehow entertain viewers in the three hours when the ball is actually not in play, then vast amounts of money could be made.
And so the tradition of the exciting, amusing, powerful, memorable Super Bowl ad was born.
How far it's come.
Just look at this year's ads. Relatively few are for tech companies. No, no crypto at all. (I wonder why that is.) Still, so very many will be causing uproarious laughter, inciting humans to involuntarily snort tortilla chips all over their living rooms.
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Why, there's a hilarious (apparently) Michelob Ultra featuring Serena Williams. There's Bud Light presenting actor Miles Teller dancing in his living room with, oh, his wife. And here's Google wanting to get you excited about the Pixel 7 by paying a lot of money to Amy Schumer, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Doja Cat.
And have you heard that Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck are appearing in a Dunkin' ad?
While Anna Faris presents Avocados from Mexico, Melissa McCarthy shills for Booking.com, Elton John and Jack Harlow amuse for Doritos and John Hamm and Brie Larson offer sheer delight for Hellmann's Mayonnaise. (Hamm and Brie, geddit?)
We're not done at all. There's Ben Stiller for Pepsi. Steve Martin, too. Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul are breaking good for PopCorners, while Meghan Trainor is with Pringles.
Meanwhile, (pauses to check notes), Snoop Dogg will be selling Skechers.
I don't know if you're seeing a pattern here, but I sense the fine minds at OpenAI already are.
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"How hard can this be?" they'll be whispering to each other. "Find a star or two, write a joke or two, feature the brand in some way, and get someone to spend millions on it."
I fear brands may be thinking the same way. "Why pay ad agencies when we can just type in our needs to a fine piece of truly infallible software and scripts will be emitted by the yard?"
Please, I'm not saying this is a good thing. I might, though, be saying that ad agencies and their clients have spent a little too long doing the same old thing over and over again.
CMOs only last a couple of years in their jobs. Why take a risk when you can just join the line at the Famous Persons Show?
Once upon a time, Steve Jobs explained that technology's role in the world was to take drudgery away from humans, so that they can do more creative things.
Yet what happens when ChatGPT -- and, of course, Google's Bard, should it ever work well -- are perfectly capable of taking a brief and concocting something relatively amusing, entertaining, yet somehow pleasingly familiar?
Will brands ever bother to buy actual creativity from real humans again?