In 1999, Mike Ford and Mike Zapolin raised $7 million to start Computer.com, a business with a straightforward proposition and an unassailable URL. In 2000, they spent half of that money on Super Bowl Sunday, paying ABC for two pre-game ads and one during the event itself. And because they bought their time so late, they wound up with what used to be one of the worst time slots in the game: the two-minute warning at the end of the second half. (Apple suffered in 1985, for example, when its "Lemmings" ran with about a minute left in a game that had been decided by the second quarter.)
Then Computer.com hit the jackpot, as the St. Louis Rams and the Tennessee Titans battled to the very end, with the Titans scoring 16 uninterrupted points to tie the score with 2:12 left.
Zapolin was watching from the Disney booth along with other advertisers and Disney president Bob Iger. "And I remember the president, it was Iger at the time of Disney," Zapolin told “Weekend America” years later. "He looked at me and he said 'I don't know if you have a horseshoe up your ass, but that was the highest rated commercial of all time.'" Super Bowl matchups would subsequently become closer affairs, on the whole, making late-game time more desirable than in the 90s.
The spot itself features intentionally amateurish video of the founders begging for support so they can pacify relatives and other panicky investors, a funny take amid 2000’s so-called "Dot-Com Bowl." Merkley Newman Harty’s ad also clearly describes the service, a harder feat than it might seem on a stage like the Super Bowl. And Mike’s grandmother’s shouted non sequitur was the laugh-out-loud line of the Super Bowl. But the dot-com bubble of the time wouldn’t last much longer, with the Nasdaq peaking in March. Later that year, Office Depot bought the company.Send credit info to SuperBowlAdArchive@adage.com.