The Bubble Bowl

David M. Ewalt

It was just five years ago, although it seems like a different age entirely. It was a time of singing-sock-puppets, 21-year-old chief executives, gravity-defiant stock prices, revolutionary technologies and half-baked business plans.

And in this atmosphere, during the final, halcyon days of the Internet boom, the St. Louis Rams played the Tennessee Titans in Super Bowl XXXIV, a moment that will be forever remembered as the dot-com bubble’s Waterloo.

Football fans got a heavy dose of the fever that day: More than a dozen internet companies spent an average of $2.2 million for 30-second spots, amounting to more than $40 million of stockholder cash and not-so-hard-won venture capital.

These startups hoped that Super Bowl exposure would sear their web address into the minds of consumers. But most viewers were left with only vague memories of chimpanzees dancing to “La Cucaracha” to promote… while the businesses themselves were left with empty wallets.

Today, most of these Internet pioneers are dead and gone, forgotten as the score of the game (St. Louis 23, Tennessee 16). But in this feature we take a stroll down memory-lane, looking at some of the most memorable advertisers from the dot-com bowl, and let you decide whether they were ahead of their time or just out of their minds.