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Dot Com at the Bowl
Internet Advertising during Super Bowl XXXIV
by Rick Smith (January 30, 2000)

In what started out appearing to be a dull football game that would end with nothing but field goals and having the Titans get shut out, became an exciting football game, lost only by inches. Several records were set in what turned out to be an exciting game. This has been the third Super Bowl that I have watched, while being connected to the Internet. Computer-related ads have been part of Super Bowl for a long time, the most memorable being Apple's announcement of the Macintosh in 1984.

This year, there were more Super Bowl ads from dot com companies than ever before. Several of them were repeated during The Practice, which immediately followed the game. It was also interesting to note that the lawyers on this show were defending someone being accused of murdering a person they "emailed" in a chat room. This added a definite Internet flavor to this sports day.

Here is my listing of most of the dot com commercials with a brief description:

nuveen.com
While not being a pure "dot com" company, Nuveen had one of the most poignant commercials - one that attempted to foretell the future, a future that found a cure for AIDS, cancer and spinal cord injuries - This was the commercial that showed Christopher Reeves walking via computer animation - his head on another actor's body. This commercial was also mentioned and discussed on Politically Incorrect. Christopher Reeves appeared on Good Morning America and talked about this commercial. He said he viewed the commercial with "mixed emotions" and was "elated" and "deeply moved". I wish him all the best and hope that someday he can do this commercial without any computer animation.

pch.com
Publisher's Clearing House gave away $21 million and showed live coverage of their check presentation.

e-stamp.com
Showed that you had better things to do than to run to the post office to buy postage.

lifeminders.com
This commercial was shown twice and they stated immediately that they had the "worst commercial" in the Super Bowl. Formed from enlarged characters from a manual typewriter, they showed slides stating that they were the geeks that could provide you with information. A badly played piano was the musical accompaniment. Online, you can view this commercial and even vote if it was or wasn't the worst commercial.

eds.com
This humorous commercial was also shown twice and appeared to be about "cowboys" that were "herding cats" and even showed these felines scattering about. To mix metaphors, EDS was trying to show how their services can help your business "get all its ducks in a row". Maybe that will be their next year's commercial.

EDS also had a link to view their commercial and even had a cat herding game.

hotjobs.com
This novel commercial that showed that you had the power to negotiate your job offer when using their site - "hottest hand on the Web"

kforce.com
Showed that they were a job site that had actual "headhunters" on your side - "Opportunity has a new address".

pets.com
Had talking puppet animals in cars - "because pets can't drive". They also own the potential misspell "pet.com" and redirect to the correct pets.com.

computer.com
Said that they were the site that knew computers.

agillion.com
This "We are the Champions" commercial tried to show how they were the "heart and soul of business".

etrade.com
A great high-school basketball prodigy who is given a 7 figure professional contract tells his father that he wants to be a dancer instead. Moral: Have a backup plan. Online, they mentioned that they sponsored the half time show.

mvp.com
When John Elway was interviewed, he mentioned that he was the president of MVP.COM. And they didn't have to pay millions per minute for a commercial. His partners appear to be Wayne Gretzky and Michael Jordan.

autotrader.com
This commercial visually demonstrated what a product selection engine really does. The actor wanted a car and a virtual (pun intended) flood of cars appeared. Then he asked for a red convertible and the cars shifted over and he was surrounded by red convertibles. Then he asked for one with less than 12,000 miles and the cars disappeared, with only one remaining. He then asks "Could you help me with a loan?" and a flood of bankers at their desks appears. Since I remembered this ad in such great detail, hours after I saw it, I pick this one as my favorite.

onmoney.com & epidemic.com
I didn't remember the commercials shown for either onmoney.com and epidemic.com - Sorry. The epidemic.com site had a server error "which prevents it from fulfilling your request" when I checked it in the early morning of the 31st. This was not good, hopefully I didn't get the URL incorrect.

Update: Someone has created a website, superbowlads.com, that lets you vote on some of the commercials. From that site, I see I missed angeltips.com and britannica.com, but there were TEN mentioned here that weren't listed on their site. They do have some nice histograms of the results and it was nice to see that normal distribution is alive and well.

With all the money spent on these commercials, I was surprised that very few of these companies had a link to see the commercial again on their Web sites. If the commercial got someone there, it is possible that they MIGHT want to see it again or email the link to their friends.

Next year, Super Bowl advertising will probably be completely dominated by dot com ads.

Copyright 2000 Rick Smith All rights reserved.

   
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