Napster never regained its peak of popularity in 2001, when it was a legally-troubled file-sharing service where consumers could get nearly any song for free. But that’s not for lack of effort, including this Super Bowl XXXIX ad from 2005. A very powerful offer from Napster -- unlimited MP3 downloads for $15 a month -- looked great next to the pay-by-the-song iTune price structure, emphasized during the same Super Bowl as a promotion (win one free track) in Pepsi’s “Bottle Songs.”
Napster by 2005 was a very different company than the original, which had been forced into liquidation in 2002. The software maker Roxio bought that Napster’s name and technology at auction for $5.3 million in cash and stock, then applied it to the music service Pressplay, which it acquired separately for $39.5 million. The new Napster struggled however, partly because it cost consumers some money, any money, and partly because it didn’t work on Apple’s iPod. Best Buy bought it in 2008 for an effective cost of $54 million but saw it founder against competitors such as Pandora and Spotify. Rhapsody picked it off for the subscribers in 2011.
Napster’s 2005 ad here, created internally, is different than most Super Bowl ads. Although it plays to the game, using a faux version of the match-up’s real-life location in Jacksonville, the commercial eschews spectacle, high creative concepts and gender humor to just play up the offer. It even asks viewers to read. (It's basically the opposite of everything FedEx's "Top Ten" spot that year said makes a great Super Bowl ad.)