Making a Tony Romo robot is not as easy as it sounds.
By Jeremy Adams, Senior Copywriter and Eric Rice, Senior Art Director
The idea was to create a new extension of the Corona Hotline – one manned by a robot.
For those who don’t know, the Corona Hotline lets football fans call a number and “talk” to the hotline operator, Tony Romo. (For the very unfamiliar, Tony Romo is a former NFL quarterback and current NFL commentator).
We set out to make a Facebook Messenger chatbot version of Tony – aka “Romobot.” This would make him available 24/7 for fans to chat, ask questions and get cool Corona stuff like gameday reaction GIFs and fantasy team names.
It all sounded great in theory. We thought, “how has building a robot ever gone wrong?”
Then one sunny August morning, we learned that Romobot had an issue.
He was giving the finger.
It was called to our attention by several parties including two legal departments, that in a certain picture Romobot’s metallic robot hand appeared to be giving people a very not-on-brand gesture.
Now for anyone who’s worked in advertising, you can probably appreciate the feeling one gets in the stomach when an email includes words like “Legal” and “flicking someone off.”
It’s not a good note to get. But still, we couldn’t help but think people were overreacting. We created Romobot, and felt obligated to defend him. So we did.
Our argument was that Romobot had four fingers. How can you give someone the middle finger, with only four fingers? It’s mathematically impossible.
But the human eye disagreed. After showing Romobot to others, they all came back with the same comment:
“It’s great! But why is he flipping me off?”
So we did what had to be done.
We remade Romobot. Better. Faster. Stronger. And without an offensive hand gesture.
Yes, it took a lot of hustling and art director magic. But in the end, we solved a problem with teamwork. Which would probably make the real Tony Romo proud.