Indulge me and think back to the first time you saw a commercial for GoDaddy.com. While NASCAR superstar Danica Patrick poses seductively for the camera, or another one of their infamous Go Daddy girls – sporting no more than a thin layer of body paint – appeals to consumers by directing them “To see more skin, click here,” did you ever find yourself wondering: what the hell is Go Daddy actually selling? I for one had no idea.
To sum it up, Go Daddy is a domain registrar and web hosting company that has grown exponentially, and is renowned for its top-notch customer service. But you would never get that from their ads. Whether or not you were aware of the actual business they have managed to create a name for themselves with their hyper-sexualized Superbowl commercials, generating equal parts lust and disgust.
So back in June, when Go Daddy announced that after 7 years of doing their own ads they have finally decided to hire a professional ad agency to help refashion the company’s image, many people were hopeful that the historically sexist marketing strategies would cease to exist. Executive chairman Bob Parsons readily admits that any successful company needs to be willing to reinvent itself again and again, and adds that the old Go Daddy could be likened to a “frat boy” and now it’s time they graduate from college. And queue the entrance of creative agency Deutsch New York. Having been the creative force behind the milk mustache campaign and the fantastic “Star Wars” commercials for Volkswagen Deutsch NY seemed like a no brainer. But could it be too good to be true?
Unfortunately, yes: Go Daddy has let us down one more time.
The newest spots aired on NBC this month during the Summer Olympics. Entitled “Inside/Out,” the spots features models posing suggestively in a glass viewing case next to the socially awkward tech genius that works for Go Daddy while the voice over explains how Go Daddy works: Scantily clad women attract the customers, while men do all the hard work to keep the company running. Although not as titillating as the former ads, the new and improved message portrayed is not much of an improvement; as much as they pay homage to the past, they are simultaneously repackaging the same misogynistic ideals. In all three new spots that have been released, men are presented as the brains while the women are quite literally depicted as no more than eye candy. Heaven forbid they actually play any part in the intelligence that manages the product of the company!
After giving so many people hope that the sexism behind the frat boys spots would stop, what in the world would posses Go Daddy and Deutsch NY to cling to the antics of the past? As much as I was among the group of hopefuls, I think Go Daddy had dug a hole so deep it would be no more than wishful thinking that they could change completely. Regardless of the horrific portrayal of women, from a marketing perspective Go Daddy has successfully created a brand and generated awareness of the company (even if this awareness is limited to the name of the company). Val DiFebo chief executive of Deutsch NY states that their strategy all along was to leverage the power the Go Daddy girls brought to the table against the people and technology behind the company. Seems like an admirable goal but they went about it all wrong. Women are even more objectified. The hardworking Go Daddy team is reduced to the stereotype of the socially awkward computer geek. And women are clearly excluded from the target demographic that they are attempting to attract.
As their “grown up” image is no less sexist, some groups have decided to take action and demand real change. Missrepresentation.org is urging the public to exercise the power of our collective consumer voice and join the Twitter campaign #NotBuyingIt to let the company know that in the 21st century these frat boy antics no longer make the cut.