Pets.Com, Puppet, NPR discussed on The Indicator from Planet Money
Is cardiff busy is indicated from planet. Money and today. I am joined by julia for lawn. The host of the gopher broke podcast from fox. This is a series all about the late nineties tech bubble. Julia i cardiff. This story is all about the rise and fall of pets.com. Which is the company everybody thinks of when they remember the dot com bubble because it was humongous and then it was over. I remember it happening so fast. And when i think i remember about pets.com was it. It made no money. It was all hype lost money. Yeah pet sacramento one of those companies. That was able to get money from investors not because they were actually profitable but because they were flashy it was time when people could basically like put dot com at the end of any noun and suddenly they were supposed to be a company. Profits didn't matter. A functional business model was just like an afterthought it was all about marketing and growing really big and it helps to have a famous sock puppet. That was the lesson in the nineties. so juliet we are going to run a condensed excerpt of gopher broke. Which is your new podcast. So today on the show wild story of pets dot com and how it relates to the tech companies of today. That's right after a quick break. This message comes from. Npr sponsor the capital. One venture card. Right now you can earn one hundred thousand bonus miles. You can actually use when you spend twenty thousand dollars in your first year. What's in your wallet. Limited time offer terms apply see capital one dot com for details support for npr and the following message come from fund rice fund. Rise makes it easy for anyone to invest in high quality real estate by building you. A portfolio with their more than one billion dollars in assets get started at fund rise dot com slash indicator to have your first ninety days of advisory fees waived. If there's one thing that was true in nineteen ninety nine and is still true. Today people love their pets. Were talking guana food and cat birthday cards and hamster obstacle courses. The us market for the pet industry was twenty three billion dollars in one thousand nine hundred nine. This was also the point when it started being more common for people to have a computer at home given the massive pet market and the potential for people to change the way they shopped. Why wouldn't you get in on the ground floor. So pets.com wasn't alone. What everyone understood at the pets.com office was that the company needed to be a category killer. The one brand that dominates the market and this kid's is how the sock puppet came to life. Pets went for the big guns at a firm called. Tb w. a. Shaya day in one thousand nine hundred nine rob smiley was one of their creative directors. We started to create a world where we showed that pets.com understood. The pets have lives. They things they love. They have things that make them sad rob and his colleagues were banking on a simple but revolutionary idea that went against the instincts of basically of pet advertising. That came before it. Pets was going to let the sock puppet. This imperfect individual with wants and needs but became this very homemade Puppet with a wristwatch for a dog collar with a button for an eye with a goofy microphone made out of cardboard with the pets.com logos stuck on the side slapdash. The pets.com exacts were nervous because remember remember their whole plan for getting customers to visit their website instead of tokyo dot com or the local supermarket was a comedian riding around in a van. Doing loose improv. With a sock puppet. Your shorts you'd be looking the first. Tv ads with a sock. Puppet hit the airwaves in september nineteen ninety nine and they quickly get some buzz. The ads are funny and memorably weird. But there's a catch here. The whole motivation behind this ad campaign was not simply to get people to log on and buy their dog. A new caller. It was to demolish the competition and by the time the first ad aired the field of competitors was getting bigger. So what is the number one place you go if you want to be flashy and cool advertising like what is one of the few moments of every year where people actually talk about at super bowl. Thirty four. so on january thirtieth two thousand eight point. Five million people are glued to their tv's and in watching kurt warner lead. The rams to victory that massive audience sees this. The commercial opens the dog looking really sad while its owner drives drives away okay. Dino like a spotlight comes on and the pets.com sock. Puppet appears singing if you leave now by the band chicago one of the folks. We spoke to from shah told us that the band had never given permission for the song to be used in a commercial before but.