As we await the premiere of Facebook’s first Super Bowl commercial — a 60-second feel-good spot featuring Chris Rock and promoting the benefits of Groups — it’s easy to get nostalgic about a time 20 years ago when the internet was fresh and new and “millionaires” were aplenty.
The 2000 Super Bowl, aka the “Dot-Com Bowl,” featured no less than 17 advertisements from tech companies, some of which didn’t survive to year’s end (neither did the millionaires, sadly). Here’s a look back at five of the most memorable.
E-Trade’s dancing chimpanzee
“Well, we just wasted $2 million — what are you doing with your money?” was the clever tagline for E-Trade’s Super Bowl 2000 commercial. Critics lauded the ad as one of the game’s most successful, and the E-Trade chimp made return appearances in 2001 and 2002.
Muhammad Ali or WebMD?
A wordless commercial featuring the legendary Muhammad Ali definitely caught viewers’ attention —but could anyone remember this commercial was advertising WebMD.com? Granted, WebMD.com survived the dot-com bubble and created a nation of cyberchrondriacs, but it likely had little to do with this Super Bowl spot.
EDS’ cat herders
Acquired by HP in 2008 and now part of DXC Technology, EDS — the company founded by H. Ross Perot — jumped or perhaps scratched its way into the Dot-Com Bowl with a memorable group of cat herders. Grizzled cowhands (cathands?) explained the rigors of herding 10,000 shorthairs — which EDS compared to its work. “In a sense, this is what we do — we bring together information, ideas, and technologies.” Filming the stampeding cats required a lot of tuna.
Many of the most memorable commercials from the 2000 #SuperBowl (aka the ‘Dot-Com Bowl) came from #tech companies, including some big names that are still around today. #TechTimeWarp
The Pets.com sock puppet
A sock puppet that sings one of Chicago’s greatest hits? How could a company with that marketing strategy not make it? In truth, Pets.com was just ahead of its time and couldn’t sustain the cost of its business model, which is now commonplace (see chewy.com). By November 2000, Pets.com was out of business, spending far more on advertising than it was earning in revenue. The puppet did move on to auto financier BarNone.
Accessing the internet without a computer? Like Pets.com, Netpliance was perhaps too forward-thinking. The “i-opener” was essentially a tablet, though it sold for only $99, offering everyone — even the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders — a simple way to go online. Sadly for Netpliance, though, the consumer of 2000 just wanted a computer, and by January 2002 the company had abandoned “web appliances” and transitioned into a managed-services company.
If you’re one of those people who actually watches the game, the St. Louis Rams won the Super Bowl in 2000, defeating the Tennessee Titans 23-16.
Photo: Muyuan Ma / Unsplash