Go Daddy: Sex, Shame, and the Super Bowl
The Super Bowl is known for bringing out the best (and worst) in advertisers around the globe. This weekend, you'll see viral sensations, spots that completely miss the mark, and more than a few ads that aim to push the boundaries of good taste. If you look closely, far past the gray area between funny and offensive, deep into the realm of misogyny and exploitation, you'll more than likely find a commercial from GoDaddy.com.
The popular domain registrar practices trash marketing year round, however, its Super Bowl commercials never fail to sink to a new low. Go Daddy feeds off of the lowest common denominator with vile, sexist, exploitive ads that are demeaning to women. And, just to sell web hosting? I'm still scratching my head at the video below. What's the connection between sex appeal and web hosting?
Maybe I’m crazy, but I don’t find web hosting sexy. Domains aren’t hot and steamy. SSLs don’t represent status or help create social experiences. The reason beer and auto ads can incorporate sex appeal is because there are social aspects to their products. Go Daddy's ads can’t even be considered parodies of sex the way Hardees’s / Carl Jr.’s commercials have been in the past. And it's not just a pretty woman in an ad, but women parading around in a blatantly sexual, almost pornographic manner. It's sex for the sake of sex. It's vile, demeaning, and often times, more than a little creepy.
Brands have attributes. Brands have identities. Good brand messaging merges product truths with a brand personality. When done correctly, it helps make an organization’s position clear and powerful. None of these things can be said about Go Daddy's brand, yet the company has managed to not only survive, but thrive --- by being sleazy. Of course, this should come as no surprise when you take a look at the Founder and Executive Chairman of Go Daddy, Bob Parsons. Described in an interview with Inc., as spending “most of his days traipsing around in motorcycle gear, shopping for rifles online and brazenly stirring up controversy”, it doesn’t come as too much of a surprise that he’d use exploiting women as his go-to marketing strategy. That, along with killing defenseless elephants in Africa and taking pictures of it.
But Bob isn’t the only one who deserves blame. Go Daddy is now owned by KKR, Silver Lake and Technology Crossover Ventures. With that purchase came the hope that Go Daddy’s advertising would change. After hiring Deutsch as their ad agency, the company promised their messaging would evolve and that they would ditch the provocative schtick. Their ads "evolved", all right.
During the Olympics, Go Daddy's ads went beyond just offending women and began stereotyping and degrading people in the tech world as nerds whose Internet history you’d be disgusted to see. Maybe this isn’t an audience truth, but an insight into Bob himself?
Despite how offensive their ads continue to be, Go Daddy remains the #1 domain host. However, people don’t live forever, and neither do brands. Go Daddy’s misunderstanding of brand messaging and audience insights leaves the door wide open for a competitor to challenge them. In fact, competition may be the only way to stop Go Daddy’s advertising.
In the meantime, we all need to take some responsibility for the success of such a despicable company. The fact is, Go Daddy is the biggest name in domain hosting and offers some of the lowest prices out there, which makes them the first stop for most domain shoppers. Full disclosure: Nebo owns plenty of Go Daddy domains, ourselves. We've owned many of them for years without giving our decision a second thought because, frankly, changing domain registrars is an enormous hassle and because it was never really a top of mind decision. But everyone has a breaking point, and using Go Daddy is something we just can't stomach anymore. We owe it to ourselves (we all do), not to settle for the status quo.
Things like respect, integrity and decency should never be sacrificed for the sake of short-term financial gains or convenience. The time has come, for all of us, to demand more from the brands that we patronize.