For NFL players, competing in the Super Bowl offers the chance of a lifetime\u2014an opportunity to shine under the bright lights of this spectacular sporting event. And for many companies that yearn to reach the millions of TV viewers watching the big game, a 30-second TV commercial during the telecast is also a rare opportunity to strut their stuff on an international stage.\n\nYet like many of those football players who wilt under the Super Bowl\u2019s intense spotlight, so too can a company\u2019s future if its commercial fails to grab viewers\u2019 attention or generate buzz, and ends up as a colossal waste of money. (Thirty-second spots are running around $2.6 million this year.) With IT-related companies, the ability to get their message out to the masses can be that much harder. Translating what, say, EDS does into a 30-second spot that entertains and enlightens is infinitely harder than the marketing rigors that Budweiser faces.That\u2019s not to say IT companies and e-commerce players haven\u2019t given it the old college try over the years: Witness the year 2000, the apex of the dotcom boom, when the Super Bowl featured 17 dotcom commercials. We all know what happened to many of those companies shortly thereafter.So for your enjoyment and a bit of nostalgia, CIO.com rated the 10 best and 10 worst IT Super Bowl commercials, starting\u00a0way back with Xerox\u2019s "It\u2019s a Miracle"\u00a0spot in 1977, all the way up to Careerbuilder.com\u2019s \u201cWorking with Monkeys\u201d spot in 2006. We used three means of analysis to differentiate the best from the worst. First, we borrowed a rule of thumb from legendary ad pundit Bob Garfield. He said, in his Super Bowl roundup last year, that an organization\u2019s purpose for running a Super Bowl spot \u201cis about selling messages and strategy and reaching the consumer.\u201d Second, over-the-top attempts at humor just as often fall flat; there\u2019s something to be said for subtlety and clever visuals. Third, we must admit to a soft spot for monkeys.A special thanks to two websites, where you can view the commercials listed below: SuperbowlAds.com and iFilm. Here they are, in chronological order, the 10 best and 10 worst IT-related Super Bowl commercials of all time.THE 10 BEST\n\n1977The Company: XeroxWhat It Does: Document management technology and services enterpriseThe Super Bowl Ad: It\u2019s a MircacleThe Gist: Brother Dominic toils painstakingly over a manuscript with a quill pen, while monkish chants intone in the background at the apparently medieval monastery. Brother Dominic presents his finished work to his superior who praises him highly and then says, \u201cNow, I just need 500 more sets.\u201d Near despair, Brother Dominic has a sudden idea and, racing from the cloister, enters a bright white room dominated by the Xerox 9200 Duplicating System. There, experts explain the mammoth copier and get him his stack of copied manuscripts. He delivers them to his superior, whose heavenward reply is: \u201cIt\u2019s a miracle.\u201d Not only did this ad win awards all over the place, it was one of the earliest examples of information technology advertising at the big game.\n\n1984The Company: Apple (formerly Apple Computer)What It Does: Computer hardware and software makerThe Super Bowl Ad: 1984The Gist: One of the most famous TV commercials\u2014never mind Super Bowl commercials\u2014ever. The climax of the commercial shows a woman, who\u2019s running from \u201csecurity\u201d forces, hurl a sledge hammer at the \u201cBig Brother\u201d screen, which is being silently watched by legions of uninspired and subservient drones. Playing off the Orwellian themes, Apple announced with this commercial the arrival of its Macintosh computer on Jan. 24. And what an announcement it was. \n\n\n\n1999The Company: Apple (formerly Apple Computer)What It Does: Computer hardware and software makerThe Super Bowl Ad: It Was a Bug, DaveThe Gist: Playing off widespread Y2K fears, Apple promoted that its computers would be the only ones fully compliant come the turn of the millennium. Apple employed the voice of HAL, the seemingly all-powerful computer from the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey, along with its red-light imagery, to deliver its message. A couple of lines stuck out, as HAL talks to Dave: \u201cDave, do you remember the year 2000, when computers began to misbehave?\u201d HAL says in his monotone style. \u201cThe human programmers never taught us to recognize the year 2000. When the new millennium arrived, we had no choice but to cause a global economic disruption.\u201d Though the commercial was a hit, it turned out Dave didn\u2019t have too much to worry about.\n\n1999The Company: Monster.comWhat It Does: Online job siteThe Super Bowl Ad: When I Grow Up...The Gist: A series of children \u201ccome clean\u201d as to what they really want to be when they grow up and get a job. Some of the zingers: \u201cWhen I grow up...I want to claw my way up to middle management\u201d; \u201cI want to be replaced on a whim\u201d; \u201cI want to be a yes man\u201d; \u201cI want to be paid less for doing the same job.\u201d The winner, for us, was the pudgy kid with glasses who says, with so much confidence, \u201cI want to be forced into early retirement.\u201d And Monster.com\u2019s tagline leaves us with this lingering thought: \u201cWhat did you want to be?\u201d Brilliant.\n\n2000The Company: EDSWhat It Does: Business process, application services and IT outsourcerThe Super Bowl Ad: Cat HerdersThe Gist: We\u2019ve all heard of cattle herders, but what about cat herders? The lines in this commercial are wonderful (\u201cHerding cats...don\u2019t let anybody tell you it\u2019s easy\u201d), but the visuals make the ad sing for EDS\u2014the herder rolling up the ball of yarn; the cowboys (er, catboys) showing off the scratches on their faces; the herder using the lint brush on himself; and the herder who sneezes because of his cat allergies. Classic. Now, what does all that have to do with EDS? At the end, the announcer says: \u201cIn a sense, this is what we do. We bring together information, ideas and technologies and make them go where you want.\u201d Call it cliche or analogy; it puts it in a nutshell.\n\n2000The Company: E-TradeWhat It Does: Online investment providerThe Super Bowl Ad: E-Trade Chimp, Part IThe Gist: A chimpanzee, dressed up in an E-Trade T-shirt that covers a suit, dances on a bucket in a suburban home\u2019s garage. He\u2019s surrounded by two dim-looking men who clap to the cha-cha music in the background. Near the end, the viewer sees E-Trade\u2019s message: \u201cWell, we just wasted 2 million bucks. What are you doing with your money?\u201d So you can call us a sucker for a company that makes fun of itself or of being an old softie for primate-based humor, but this is great stuff.\n\n2000 The Company: Pets.com (now owned by Petsmart.com)What It Did: Online purveyor of all things for petsThe Super Bowl Ad: Baby, Please Don\u2019t Go...The Gist: The Pets.com sock-puppet dog sings a horrible version of Chicago\u2019s \u201cIf You Leave Me Now\u201d that shows how sad pets become when their owners have to leave them to buy pet supplies. This ad is funny in its own right, but the commercial (and the sock-puppet dog itself) became the poster child for the excess and stupidity of the dotcom age. Unfortunately for the backers of Pets.com, the company tagline \u201cEverything they need\u201d couldn\u2019t persuade enough consumers to buy dog food and kitty litter online. Pets.com closed its virtual doors in 2000.\n\n2001The Company: E-TradeWhat It Does: Online investment providerThe Super Bowl Ad: E-Trade Chimp, Part IIThe Gist: The E-Trade chimp is back, this time atop a horse as he strides through the charred and pitiful office-park remains of the dotcom era. A couple of the visuals are hilarious\u2014the HQ signs for TieClasp.com and Pimentoloaf.com; the sports car with the DOTCOMER license plate that\u2019s in ruins. The E-Trade chimp watches a wrecking ball destroy a building with the name eSocks.com on it, and after the ball hits, a sock-puppet dog (looking a lot like the Pets.com dog) lands at the monkey\u2019s feet. The chimpanzee sheds some tears for all of the busted dotcom dreams. E-Trade\u2019s message: \u201cInvest wisely.\u201d\n\n2001The Company: Hotjobs.comWhat It Does: Online job siteThe Super Bowl Ad: GoThe Gist: In an office, one of the silver balls in a \u201cNewton\u2019s Cradle\u201d desk toy comes off, then rolls out of the room, through the office building and across the street to where some kids are playing with marbles and other colorful balls. The silver ball joins in on the fun, now free from the monotony of its previous existence. In the background, the lyrics \u201cGo where you want to go, and do what you want to do\u201d play. Clever and visually gratifying.\n\n2006The Company: CareerBuilder.comWhat It Does: Online job siteThe Super Bowl Ad: Working with MonkeysThe Gist: The beleaguered knowledge worker who literally works with monkeys (yes, we know they\u2019re really chimpanzees) is back again in 2006, after making his debut in 2005. In this spot, the monkeys are celebrating the company\u2019s great financial results while listening to glam rock music and dancing around. The one using a flaming $20 bill to light his cigar is priceless. The lone non-monkey in the company walks into the conference room, stops the music and corrects the positioning of the financial results chart, which actually shows that the company is not doing so well. The monkeys prefer it the other way, however, and one of them puts the chart back to the way it was before. The senior monkey in the room orders our cube-dwelling humanoid to start dancing like the others. According to CareerBuilder.com, \u201cA better job awaits,\u201d though we hope Monkey Inc. gets one more year outta this poor fellow.\n\nHONORABLE MENTION2005The Company: GoDaddy.comWhat It Does: Internet domain-name registrar and hosting service providerThe Super Bowl Ad: The Broadcast Censorship HearingsThe Gist: GoDaddy.com makes fun of the fallout from the Janet Jackson \u201cwardrobe malfunction\u201d that occurred during the previous year\u2019s Super Bowl halftime telecast. In this spot, the GoDaddy.com girl \u201ctestifies\u201d before a panel of governmental personnel on broadcast censorship. Though the ad doesn\u2019t appear to be too racy, earlier versions submitted by GoDaddy.com were deemed inappropriate for airing by CBS. (Of course, GoDaddy.com execs milked the publicity for all its worth and put the banned ads up on its website, driving even more traffic.)THE 10 WORST\n\n1998The Company: Autobytel.comWhat It Does: Online car purveyorThe Super Bowl Ad: The Pajama PurchaseThe Gist: A woman in her pajamas, sitting next to a cat (who\u2019s evidently extremely interested in car buying\u2014like all cats) purchases a car from her very own home over the Internet. As the announcer reminds us, \u201cLow-cost car buying\u2014fast, easy and painless at Autobytel!\u201d Really? While online car shopping has taken off, the jury is still out on whether people will actually purchase the whole enchilada over the Internet\u2014despite what the woman in her PJs and car-savvy feline think.\n\n1998The Company: IntelWhat It Does: Computer chip makerThe Super Bowl Ad: The Case of the Missing ProcessorThe Gist: A mystery regarding who stole the missing Intel Pentium 2 processor was to inspire legions of Super Bowl fans to log on to Intel.com and cast their vote for whodunit\u2014Jimmy \u201cThe Wire\u201d or Susie \u201cThe Mouse\u201d? This bored the heck out of us. Whodunit? Who cares?\n\n1998The Company: Network Associates (now McAfee)What It Did: Network reliability and security The Super Bowl Ad: Nuclear \u2018Hack\u2019ocaustThe Gist: Soviet nuclear-missile launchers don\u2019t know if it\u2019s a real nuclear launch sequence or a hacker just having some fun. \u201cWho really cares?\u201d they decide, and shoot the missiles anyway. Uh-oh, shoulda called Network Associates! Lame. (We kept wondering when the self-proclaimed \u201cfamous Russian comedian\u201d Yakov Smirnoff was going to show up and save this commercial.) The parting gag, unfortunately, is even worse. \u201cWhere\u2019s the missile headed?\u201d asks one of the soldiers, surprisingly named Boris. \u201cLos Angeles,\u201d replies the other. \u201cBummer,\u201d responds Boris. Ugh.\n\n1999 The Company: Buy.comWhat It Does: Internet superstoreThe Super Bowl Ad: Why Buy Anywhere Else?The Gist: We just don\u2019t get it, and are too bored and annoyed to try to figure it all out: Are those supposed to be aliens buying all kinds of stuff from Buy.com? Are those what people who live in cyberspace look like? Why would they want to watch the movie Caddyshack? Frankly, just suggest how you might beat Amazon.com, and we\u2019d be more impressed.\n\n1999 The Company: Victoria\u2019s SecretWhat It Does: Purveyor of women\u2019s lingerie and intimate wearThe Super Bowl Ad: Fashion ShowThe Gist: OK, so this isn\u2019t a technology company. That\u2019s for sure. However, the IT angle here is quite interesting. The commercial hyped the first-ever World Wide Web \u201cFashion Show,\u201d which would take place 72 hours after the Super Bowl exclusively at www.victoriassecret.com. So what happened? Like many of its garments, Vicky\u2019s servers were too skimpy, and a deluge of website traffic (1.5 million visitors) overburdened the site\u2019s servers. In turn, many interested viewers were shut out of the show. Such a shame.\n\n2000 The Company: Epidemic.comWhat It Did: Dotcom viral marketerThe Super Bowl Ad: Get Paid for Doing NothingThe Gist: Include a link in your e-mail to a friend about a business or its promotion, and if your friend buys, you get paid. It was as simple as that\u2014just doing what you normally do, and getting some cash for it. Unfortunately for Epidemic.com, it didn\u2019t do a good enough job marketing itself, and just a couple months after its first and only Super Bowl commercial in 2000, it closed shop. (The math was fascinating: Epidemic raised $7.6 million in its first round of funding, spent $1.6 million for the 2000 Super Bowl ad placement and shut down in June 2000.)\n\n2000 The Company: LifeMinders.comWhat It Did: E-mail reminder and information service. For free.The Super Bowl Ad: The Worst CommercialThe Gist: Claiming to have made \u201cthe worst commercial on the Super Bowl,\u201d LifeMinders.com tried to go the self-parody route. \u201cBut we don\u2019t know diddly about making ads,\u201d the company states in the commercial, while background \u201cmusic\u201d consists of someone butchering \u201cChop Sticks\u201d on the piano. And you were going to be sending us reminders? Well, yes, you don\u2019t know diddly. LifeMinders.com\u2019s whereabouts are unknown.\n\n2000 The Company: OurBeginning.com (Ashton Worldwide now owns and uses the site name.)What It Does: Online stationary siteThe Super Bowl Ad: Life\u2019s An Event...The Gist: Brides-to-be in their wedding gowns fight over invitations and other wedding-related stuff, just moments before their big day. The message: Don\u2019t wait until the day of your wedding to pick up your invitations. Because that would constitute a problem\u2014kind of like the thinking behind OurBeginning.com\u2019s 2000 Super Bowl participation. \n\n2002 The Company: GatewayWhat It Does: PC and home electronics makerThe Super Bowl Ad: The Computer-Literate CowThe Gist: Talking cow talks up the new Gateway 700 XL, \u201cthe nation\u2019s most advanced personal computer,\u201d in one yawner of an ad. After seeing the new computer, the talking cow says of the PC, \u201cDaddy like.\u201d We say of the ad: Daddy no like. Surely $2 mil could get you something better?\n\n2004 The Company: AOLWhat It Does: Internet connection provider and Web portalThe Super Bowl Ad: Supercharge Your Internet!The Gist: If you have a couple of mean-looking mechanics, and you attach the glowing \u201cAOL 9.0 With Topspeed Technology\u201d box to anything\u2014say, a car, a motorcycle, even a Rascal scooter\u2014you\u2019ll go really, really fast. OK. But the lingering question remains: Even if I have the \u201cAOL 9.0 With Topspeed Technology\u201d box, what happens if I\u2019m still hooking in to the Internet through a dial-up connection? What happens then, AOL?