PACKET RAT: No IT in these teams?

The Rat

Michael J. Bechetti

Tech advertisers don't show at the Super Bowl

After watching the Seahawks' rally fall apart'and the advertisements run out of steam as well'the Rat and his collection of colleagues and kin decided it was time to scrape off the nacho trays, sweep up the empty beverage cans and bring their Super Bowl XL festivities to a close in a way that has become a Rat household tradition.

'OK, folks,' the whiskered one announced as the last bit of Monterey Jack was clear. 'Pull out your laptops. Let's see whose Web sites are still up.'

The president has the official State of the Union, but the Rat and his friends have come to see the Super Bowl as a key indicator of the direction of the country'based on which ads grab the most attention and how that translates into Web traffic.

For example, when Mons-ter.com's 1999 Super Bowl ads sent its Web traffic through the roof, the cyberrodent accurately assumed it was because millions of people were getting a sinking feeling about the direction of the country'and their employers. They felt compelled by the Monster ad to seek other employment before their ships sank under them. By the next year, the wheels were well on their way to falling off of the Internet boom wagon.

The trend has been clear ever since. Long gone are the days when tech consulting firms like Accenture Ltd. dropped big dough on the networks to advertise their services, such as herding cats and building airplanes while they fly. Now, the Super Bowl is sponsored mostly by insurance companies.

Of course, one of the Web servers getting nailed the hardest after this year's game was iFilm's site, which hosted the ads themselves. The video service's Super Bowl ad player (sponsored by, of course, Budweiser) was plastered by requests even during the game, making it impossible for the Rat to completely assess their cultural impact.

But a lack of real-time replays online didn't keep the Rat from noticing that the number of tech and Internet companies that bothered to advertise on Super Bowl Sunday had continued to dwindle. 'In 2004, aside from the job site players, it was IBM, AOL and Expedia. Last year, it was Microsoft, GoDaddy and Verizon. And this year ... GoDaddy?'

'You're not counting the cell phone ads,' his spouse pointed out. 'They're tech, right?'

'Well, they'd like to think so, but no,' the Rat responded. 'They're just plumbing.'

'There were the Motorola ads,' his son pointed out. 'For that cell phone made out of meteor chunks or something.'

'If we've got to count a cell phone ad as a tech ad, we're stretching,' opined the wirebiter. 'You might as well count the job site ads then. And that way lie monkeys and madness.'

There was plenty of room for ire, thanks to the Sierra Mist ad portraying Transportation Security Administration workers abusing power by separating a passenger from his beverage with the implied threat of a strip search. But when all the arguing was done, the gathered revelers could agree on only one thing: The Pizza Hut ads for Cheesy Bites were a sign of a coming cheese apocalypse.

The Packet Rat once managed networks but now spends his time ferreting out bad packets in cyberspace. E-mail him at rat@postnewsweektech.com.

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