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It's a bird! It's a plane! It's ... a new form of advertising!

It's a bird! It's a plane! It's ... a new form of advertising!

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You know, the future never quite turns out the way we thought it would.

Ask any baby boomer who grew up in the late 1950s / early 1960s what the future was supposed to be like and they'll tell you: "Personal jet packs. Flying cars. We were all supposed to be living in clear plastic bubbles on the moon and/or tooling around the planet Earth in our flying cars."

Well, as you well know, things didn't quite turn about that way. Sure, we've got personal computers and DVD players and cellular phones. Which are pretty snazzy devices. But we baby boomers ... we still secretly long for our personal jet packs and our flying cars.

Of course, what helps make this disappointment a little easier to deal with is that -- every so often -- something pops up and you realize: "That's what the future is going to be like."

Take -- for example -- this new Jerry Seinfeld American Express ad. For years now, Madison Avenue has been sweated the ever shrinking American attention span. Which is why TV commercials -- over the past 25 years -- have gone from being 60 seconds long to 30 seconds long to now just 15 seconds long.

Then -- when you factor in TiVO (which actually allows TV viewers to excise commercials before they view their favorite programs) -- advertisers were facing a pretty bleak future. Until American Express and Jerry Seinfeld came up with the idea for this witty new campaign.

Just take a look at this ad, folks. It's truly revolutionary. Not just because its length (five minutes!) or for its skillful mix of animation and live action. It's actually witty. Loaded with great laughs and superb production values. Not to mention the softest sell that I've ever seen in an American Express ad. Only a total of 15 seconds out of this entire "webisode" features really-for-real advertising. The rest is just this inspired riff on what it might be like to have "The Man of Steel" as your best bud.

So kudos to Jerry as well as director Barry Levinson (best known for his work on "Diner" and "Rain Man"). If this is really what the future of advertising is going to be like, I say: bring it on.

Quick question, though: Does anyone out there know the name of the animation studio that did such an excellent job with Superman for this long form ad? Sure, Patrick Warburton's vocal performance goes a long way to bringing some much needed humor to this role. But the animation in this "webisode" just nails.

Also ... keep in mind that this is supposedly just the first of a series of Seinfeld / Superman long form ads. Check out the "Teaser" film can on Jerry's desk to get a sneak preview of the second "webisode" (the one that's due to debut in May). Where Superman and Seinfeld apparently get stuck in Death Valley while on a cross country drive, and we discover that "The Man of Steel is having issues with the Green Lantern.

Seriously. Go check this "wedisode." You can thank me later.

Mind you, it's not nearly as snazzy as having your own personal jet pack. But if -- from now on -- all the commercials in the future are going to be as fun as this ... I think I can handle that.

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