The Pets.com sock puppet dog stars in a commercial for the company on January 11, 2000 in Los Angeles.
Bob Riha | Connection | Getty Images
When a brand is spending a lot of money promoting the most watched event of the year, they are usually hoping to invest in the long run.
However, some companies that promoted Super Bowls in the past no longer exist. For example, some companies advertised during the Dot-Com Super Bowl in 2000 and pulled the plug just months later. Quibi is a more recent example: it premiered an ad during the 2020 Super Bowl prior to its release last year, then announced plans to close in October.
What will happen to advertisers for Sunday’s game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers? Stay tuned, but here’s a look back at 10 Super Bowl ads from companies that no longer exist.
Last year Quibi ran a spot called “Bank Heist” which was preparing to launch in April. The 30-second spot showed bank robbers waiting for their getaway car – apparently enough time to watch a short quibi video. Then, eight months after the ad and six months after its debut, the company announced it was closing.
In 2000, Pets.com paid an estimated $ 1.2 million for a Super Bowl ad that featured the sock puppet mascot. The popular TBWA / Chiat / Day spot entitled “Please Don’t Go” featured the mascot singing Chicago’s “If You Leave Me Now”. Soon after, the company embarked on a disappointing IPO and informed customers in November that it was no longer taking orders.
Epidemic Marketing, like Pets.com, was another Super Bowl advertiser from 2000 that didn’t make it until the next Super Bowl. The “Bathroom” ad got to the heart of the idea that consumers could add ads to their outbound email and reduce sales. “Now you can make money for something you are already doing with Epidemic.com,” read the voice-over. However, the company closed in June 2000.
Subprime mortgage lender Ameriquest ran a handful of Super Bowl ads until it closed in 2007. Employees later said the company pushed customers into loans they couldn’t afford. Ads that ran in 2005 and 2006 had the slogan “Don’t be too quick to judge. We won’t” and featured various scenarios in which people inadvertently put themselves in uncompromising looking positions.
Qualcomm retired its FLO TV mobile video service in 2010. At that point, wireless carriers who weren’t promoting the service heavily enough were blamed for the decline, and a $ 15 monthly service fee was too high, according to analysts. According to Ad Age’s Super Bowl Ad Archive, Qualcomm ran two FLO-TV ads in 2010 before the service went offline. “Spineless,” as shown below, was quoted in a 2011 article by The Atlantic calling this year’s Super Bowl a “bonfire of gendered and borderline sexist advertising”. This particular one, said the writer, is “the most explicit boomerang against women who get the upper hand in relationships”.
The online stamp seller E-Stamp ran an ad in 2000 called “Time Saving Tips”. Part of the 1950s-style ad voiceover read, “Here’s another time-saving tip: Get E-Stamp Internet postage and buy and print postage whenever you want. That’s E-Stamptastic!” By 2001, the company decided to merge with Learn2.com to focus on online learning.
Computer.com reportedly spent half of its venture capital on Super Bowl ads before and during the 2000 game. Then it was sold to Office Depot that year. As Ad Age put it, it is “a deliberately amateur video of the founders asking for assistance so they can calm relatives and other panicked investors”.
“This is the worst commercial in the Super Bowl,” begins the 2000 spot for email advertising company Lifeminders.com. The spot consists essentially of text on a screen while a botched version of piano sticks plays in the background. “We’re information experts (geeks). But we don’t know how to advertise.” The company was sold to direct marketing company Cross Media Corp. the next year. sold. The website is no longer operational.
“What if each and every one of us could access the Internet and e-mail without a computer? Well, then each and every one of us could be a webhead,” promised the spokesman for Netpliance 2000, “Webheads”. Netpliance went to the Super Bowl to publicize its “I-Opener”, a computer designed for surfing the Internet that offered a subscription. The Federal Trade Commission would ultimately come to terms with the company about its sales and billing practices (it warned of future fines, but better known as a settlement), and in 2002 the company renamed and withdrew from the Internet device business.
Another dotcom Super Bowl ad, titled “Angry Brides,” came from OurBeginning.com. The subject, a group of brides fighting over invitations, earned the ad a “sexism alert” from a blog post at a Turkish university. “As you watch this ad, remember that in 2000 gender awareness was just as bad as video quality,” it said. The company, which sold wedding invitations, announcements, and stationery, filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection in late 2001.
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