How an AI Would Have Written 10 of the Super Bowl’s Biggest Ads

We asked Adweek's Super Bowl Bot to reimagine the year's most notable spots

Bill Murray wears a bike helmet and rides a bike with a helmet-wearing groundhog in the basket
Jeep brought back Bill Murray's character from Groundhog Day for the Super Bowl. Jeep
Headshot of Patrick Kulp

Maisie Williams sings the Frozen soundtrack in a traffic jam? A mascot funeral in which Kool-Aid Man’s tears reincarnate Mr. Peanut into a salty Baby Yoda?

Some Super Bowl ads were such odd mishmashes of pop culture, they might have sounded like they were compiled by an AI.

In that spirit, we decided to see how Adweek’s Super Bowl Bot might have approached 10 of the year’s most talked-about ads when given a general description of each. From a ghostly Groundhog Day adventure to a cosmic voyage for Snickers, the AI-generated output is, at the very least, bizarre enough to make the real spots seem straightforward by comparison.

Adweek has trained the AI on nearly 4,500 descriptions of Super Bowl ads in a dataset consisting of 235,000 words. That’s on top of the millions of websites used to train the underlying system, a sophisticated language generation model called GPT-2.

But how would it compare to human creatives in a head-to-head Super Bowl showdown?

Here are the pitches our Super Bowl Bot came up with as alternatives to 10 of the year’s most notable Big Game spots:

1. Jeep

How it ran:

How the AI would have written it:

[In a Jeep ad set in the 1993 film Groundhog Day, Bill Murray] says that he sees "ghosts" of himself in the windshield of every Jeep he drives. As he drives, he yells at a ghostly sight, which finally brings him to life. The spots is a nod to the original film where the ghost warns Bill that if he continues to drive, he will see ghosts.

Here’s another possibility suggested by the AI:

[In a Jeep ad set in the movie Groundhog Day, Bill Murray] parks outside the house and lets loose a horrible breath in warning of a hungry, furry gremlin being in his Jeep.

2. Amazon

How it ran:

How the AI would have written it:

[In Amazon’s Super Bowl ad about what history was like before Alexa,] the narrator says that history was pretty shitty. There were some shitty moments, sure, but Alexa wasn’t invented by some kind of futuristic super genius. In fact, she wasn’t even invented by Alexa. People just didn’t get smart enough to make money with the technology. That’s why Amazon says Alexa helps make people more fulfilled in their lives.

The bot often produces a range of ideas on one prompt, and it definitely seemed inspired by Amazon’s concept. Here are some of its other suggestions:

[In Amazon’s Super Bowl ad about what history was like before Alexa,] the narrator talks about how much people don’t know about climate change. After a medieval king gets his Echo, he tells a story about how his subjects believe in man-made global warming, despite the scientific consensus that says otherwise. The king chimes in with “Are you listening to me?”

[In Amazon’s Super Bowl ad about what history was like before Alexa,] the narrator is quick to point out that people didn’t have smart refrigerators—people were using old, dirty, smelly refrigerators. People didn’t have smart phone charging—people had complicated mobile plans with no Wi-Fi. People didn’t have smart bathrooms—people were using the old bathroom fixtures. People didn’t have smart shopping—people were using the old shopping

3. Planters

How it ran:

How the AI would have written it:

[In a Planters ad showing the rebirth of Mr. Peanut,] the old Mr. Peanut shows up, reborn as Mr. Awesome. Unfortunately, his youthful appearance stuns the neighbours. But, the young Mr. Peanut backs it up, insisting he's still nutty.

4. Hyundai

How it ran:

How the AI would have written it:

[In a Super Bowl ad sending up Boston accents to promote Hyundai's new 'Smaht Pahk' feature,] actor John Krasinski takes a colorful swing at his hometown. Speaking to the brisket and seafood-loving audience, he boasts that his parents were "literally steps from Hell's Kitchen." Punctuated by local favorite songs including Coldplay's "Nobody Can Demean Me," the automaker concludes its Boston spot with a short film that honors Boston's rich and varied past.

5. Audi

How it ran:

How the AI would have written it:

[In an Audi ad, actress Maisie Williams] drives through a countryside surrounded by ravenous wolves. Every so often, a pack of them bursts into song, dancing to 'Roar' by Christina Aguilera. As Williams' character sings, the wolves stop dancing and start roasting a pack of wild pigs. This earns them a glance from a passing truck. This is one of many moments in which the Audi Q3 exemplifies the car's ability to keep the senses busy.

6. Doritos

How it ran:

How the AI would have written it:

[In a Western-themed Doritos ad, Lil Nas X and Sam Elliott] each get a free Doritos from a woman riding a bull. In the bowl of their free Doritos, they decide to partake in a game of cards (which turns out to be a game of death). His final verse says, "If you want to be liked, you deserve it."

7. Porsche

How it ran:

How the AI would have written it:

[In a Porsche ad called ‘The Heist,’] a gang of crooks take a wild getaway car, part of a bigger, badder heist. They hijack a limo driven by Casey Affleck, who they believe to be the Golden Globes 2014 Golden Globe Nominee. Along the way, they obtain more and more shiny objects, ending up in dramatic situations that will expose their deceit.

8. Budweiser

How it ran:

How the AI would have written it:

[In a Budweiser ad celebrating a montage of 'typical Americans,’] including a hard-working rancher, a retired astronomy professor and a mother who cooks, the narrator talks about  how we are all 'typical' because we all drink a Budweiser every day. The camera moves to a rack of beers, and shows a continuous shot of the entire working class.

9. Cheetos

How it ran:

How the AI would have written it:

[In a Cheetos ad playing on the idea of Cheeto-dust-covered fingers, MC Hammer] posits that Cheeto lovers will love this new Cheetos recipe, which is covered in Cheetos dust. When he addresses the dust-covered audience in the latest installment of his Cheetos trilogy (which also includes Cheetos Popcorn and Cinnamon Toast Crunch), he insists that these new Cheetos are still "ugly fingers."

10. Snickers

How it ran:

How the AI would have written it:

[In a topical Snickers ad, a group of people sing about how 'the world is out of sorts’] as the announcer tells us that 'the world is out of sorts' because the earth's magnetic field is out of whack with the other magnetic objects in the sky. The group is then sucked into a black hole whose radius is the same as the earth's. They are seen spinning around and then joining the earth's rotation in a dance with the pop song 'Get On Up'.

Clearly, the AI has its own ideas as to how these commercials should have played out. If it had its way, “Mr. Awesome” would’ve been the new Baby Nut, Lil Nas X and Sam Elliott would’ve competed in a “game of death” rather than a dance-off, and Snickers would’ve depicted some kind of strange cosmic spectacle.

But there was some unprompted overlap between the real and bot-imagine spots: Maisie Williams is also cast in a musical spot, and John Krasinski appears in Hyundai’s ad without us having had to prompt the bot to include him—though both could be chalked up to this year’s Super Bowl commercials already being included in the bot’s training data.

In any case, the AI needs some work before it’s quite ready for a full-time gig as a creative director. But given that some of these ideas sound pretty compelling, we humans probably shouldn’t get too comfortable.


The Fans. The Brands. Social Good. The Future of Sports. Don't miss the upcoming Brandweek Sports Marketing Summit and Upfronts, a live virtual experience on Nov. 16-19. Early-bird passes available until Oct. 26. Register now


@patrickkulp patrick.kulp@adweek.com Patrick Kulp is an emerging tech reporter at Adweek.
{"taxonomy":"","sortby":"","label":"","shouldShow":""}