Advertising over the decades has unleashed a collection of memorable and endearing mascots. Many have stood the test of time, while others…are the sock puppet from pets.com.
If you watched enough television in the late 1990s and early 2000s, you probably saw at least one commercial for pets.com. Or you saw the company’s figurehead, the Sock Puppet. His was a short-lived but memorable journey in late 1990s and early 2000s.
The short-lived Pets.com retail website was founded in August 1998, and opened its virtual doors in 1999. The internet (and online shopping) was becoming more commonplace in homes, and pets.com was part of the dot-com craze that saw some successes, and many more failures. The site sold pet accessories, food, and toys “because pets can’t drive!”, which was also their slogan.
Initially an attention-getter in its early days, pets.com lost money on its sales due to selling merchandise at one-third the price the company paid to obtain the products. Throw in discounts and free shipping, and the company failed to keep up.
The initial campaign of commercials aired in five cities, and expanded to ten cities by Christmas 1999. And among the clips in the video, you’ll also see the Sock Puppet Dog mascot even had his own balloon in the 1999 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
For every Snoopy, Disney character, and marching band in the parade, there is a short-famed character balloon.
Uploaded by NutsGum
Sock Puppet even sang Chicago’s “If You Leave Me Now,” and represents the sadness of pets left at home while their owners shop at those brick-and-mortar pet stores. You know, the ones that are still around today?
Uploaded by Nikos Kapsomenakis
I should note that this was not only the first national commercial for pets.com, but was also a Super Bowl commercial AND it cost $1.2 million. USA Today’s Ad Meter ranked the commercial #1 of all of 2000’s Super Bowl ads.
This. This cost $1.2 million, which I guarantee at least a hefty piece went to licensing the music. Somewhere Peter Cetera is pissed. Unless he received royalties, then he is very happy.
Oh, and representatives for Robert Smigel (of Saturday Night Live and Late Night with Conan O’Brien) sent letters and a cease and desist demand to pets.com, on the basis that Sock Puppet was based on Triumph the Insult Comic Dog. Pets.com was just gaining recognition at the time, so I’m sure that didn’t help them at all.
I wonder who got the last laugh…
Pets.com self liquidated by the early 2000s, and was effectively defunct by November 2000. In June 2008, CNET called pets.com one of the greatest dot-com disasters in history. Their days of not making a profit on discount pet stuff, and spending far more on advertising than the company was actually earning were over, less than three years after they started.
And because of the “second chance” theory that someone in the advertising industry had, Sock Puppet became the spokesperson for 1-800 Bar None, which helped people get new cars despite bad credit.
Uploaded by RandomCartoonExtras
Of course, that was a short-lived thing, and the Sock Puppet pretty much went away by the early 2000s. Just another dot in our collective pop culture memories, and a time when a sock with googly eyes told us what real pets want.
(They really want to chew on your socks.)
Allison remembers the days where sock puppets sold pet supplies. She didn’t like the Sock Puppet (he’s an insult to Muppets), but she does like to give all nostalgia a fair chance. Especially when they sing Chicago songs off-key (like she does). If you like what you’ve seen here, she has a blog full of goodies. You can also subscribe to her blog’s Facebook page, and follow her on Twitter @AllisonGeeksOut.
If you leave here now, you’ll probably get the sock puppet image out of your head….ooooh, oooh, oooh…
She can be found at allisonveneziowrites.com.You can follow her blog on Facebook (facebook.com/allisonswrittenwords) and on Twitter @AllisonGeeksOut.