Ad Space – Seinfeld v Superman: Dawn of Amex

You are now entering Ad Space, a realm of commercials, brought before us so we might examine how they work, and discuss why we both love and hate them so. So it is written …

The Product:
American Express

The Promotions:

The Pitch:
Who needs Superman when you’ve got American Express?

Superman is no stranger to bizarre crossovers. Heck, any time he shows up in the same story as Batman or Wonder Woman, you’ve got a superpowered space alien meeting an urban vigilante and an Amazon out of Greek Mythology. But at least those are fellow superheroes. Where things get really odd is when he teams up with Bugs Bunny, gets into a boxing match with Muhammad Ali, or shows up on I Love Lucy for Little Ricky’s birthday party.

Yet even so, this has to be one of the oddest crossovers the Man of Steel has ever done.

A series of five-minute long TV commercials, with an animated Superman (voiced by Patrick Warburton) and a live-action Jerry Seinfeld having rambling conversations about minutia, in the style of the TV show Seinfeld, all so they can work in a few seconds of plugging American Express.

It’s such a bizarre setup, and it takes so long to reveal itself as a commercial, you’re almost not sure what you’re watching. I remember seeing these when they first came out, and thinking, “I haven’t heard anything about Jerry Seinfeld making a new sitcom where he’s paired up with a cartoon Superman … I don’t think a network would greenlight that, but … maybe that’s what this is?”

And that’s one of the beautiful things about commercials: they can deliver some truly bizarre ideas that no other medium would touch. I probably wouldn’t watch a whole series based on the concept of these ads, but at the same time, I am immensely glad I got to see Patrick Warburton’s put-upon, slightly scatterbrained take on the Man of Steel.

And, heck, if Michael Keaton can come back to replace Ben Affleck as Batman, why can’t the movies have Warburton step in for Henry Cavill?