By virtue of its highly recognizable sock-puppet mascot and its highly visible marketing, Pets.com would itself become a sort of mascot -- for doomed dot-com exuberance. Two months before making a big, positive impression in 2000’s Super Bowl XXIV -- “Please Don’t Go” by TBWA/Chiat/Day scored fifth in that year’s USA Today Super Bowl Ad Meter -- the Pets.com sock puppet drifted above Manhattan as a float in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. It even showed up as a guest on “Live With Regis and Kathy Lee.”
The business model was weighed down by high costs, however, and not just for advertising: The infrastructure to take orders for bulky pet food and ship it cheaply just wasn’t as established as it would be years later, when services like Amazon Prime Now, Google Express, Instacart and others would take on very similar missions -- only broader. Less than 11 months after Pets.com’s Super Bowl ad, management told employees that the company would close, with assets on the block including the sock puppet mascot. E-Trade would include a discarded, familiar-looking puppet in its survey of dot-com busts in the following year's "Ghost Town," but the official rights went to auto lender Bar None in 2002.Send credit info to SuperBowlAdArchive@adage.com.