Wix Swaps Super Bowl for College Football With Will Ferrell

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Wix - Will Ferrell as Cord Hosenbeck - Rose Parade - Amazon - Funny or Die

After three years in the Big Game, Wix is pulling out of Super Bowl advertising in 2018 and reallocating its television budget to support digital marketing—taking a punt of a different kind, still getting its kicks with humor and different forms of football.

The strategy shift reflects its identity as an online website builder for others, one that woos businesses and individuals, from amateurs to (increasingly) professionals to use its tools while expanding customer support and services to keep its millions of newbie website owners happy.

It’s not that the web design startup is belt-tightening; revenue grew 47% in the third quarter, CEO Abishai Abrahami told analysts on its latest earnings call. “We had another great quarter and saw continuous improvement in all of our key metrics, allowing us to raise our full-year guidance,” Abrahami said. “I am really happy about this fantastic result.”

The strategy pivot is a departure from 2015, when Wix tapped NFL legends Brett Favre, Terrell Owens, Franco Harris and Emmitt Smith for its first Super Bowl ad (hashtag: #ItsThatEasy), suiting up as entrepreneurs using Wix for their side hustles.

In 2016 Wix partnered with DreamWorks for #StartStunning, a tie-in with Kung Fu Panda 3.

And this year, Wix hired action stars Jason Statham and Gal Gadot (who would go on to global fame in the blockbuster Wonder Woman movie) for a high-kicking, tongue in cheek spot demolishing a chef’s dream restaurant and forcing his own pivot.

The focus on big ticket TV advertising meant Wix increased its TV ad spending to $28 million in 2016 from $18 million in 2015, according to Kantar. But that was then.

Now Wix is finding its kicks with more creative digital campaigns, including profiling celebrity creators such as model Karlie Kloss, British musician/comedian James Veitch and YouTube stars Rhett and Link.

The shift became evident last summer with the introduction of Wix Code, a product geared toward more advanced web designers and developers. Digital is the best way to reach them, CMO Omer Shai told Ad Age. 

The Super Bowl’s mass audience is less desirable than creators such as Lili Arnold, a California illustrator, or New York photographer Catia Conde, just two of the indie artists and designers that Wix has been promoting lately.

Still, despite its Super Bowl exit, Wix is popping up at a major college football game—the Rose Parade for the annual college football played on January 1st at the Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena, California.

Wix just released a spot starring Will Ferrell in character, teasing his upcoming gig co-hosting the Rose Bowl Parade telecast with fellow SNL alum Molly Shannon.

The duo will play Los Angeles broadcasters “Cord Hosenbeck and Tish Cattigan” as they host a live streaming broadcast of the 2018 Tournament of Roses Parade on New Year’s Day for Amazon Prime, in partnership with Funny or Die.

Will Ferrell as Cord Hosenbeck for Amazon Prime / Rose Parade / Wix / Funny or Die

Wix’s faux “Meet Wix user Cord Hosenbeck” spot promotes the character’s self-built website, which features photos of his basset hounds. The teaser:

Will Ferrell as Cord Hosenbeck - Barkley and Me author“You may know Cord Hosenbeck as a best-selling author, motivational speaker and host of the annual Rose Parade. What you may not know about Cord is he’s also an enthusiastic Wix user and professional dog breeder. Check out his stunning Wix website, where he showcases images of his prize-winning bassets that he calls family.”

No network has exclusive TV rights to the Rose Parade, so Amazon will be streaming the event, joining other broadcasters carrying it on New Year’s Day. As Amazon’s press release stated:

“Cord Hosenbeck and Tish Cattigan are no strangers to the Rose Bowl, having covered the event for the past 25 years. However, their move this year to Amazon from a local station will allow their fans from around the world to stream the event live.”

Wix plans to keep its “hand” in another form of football marketing, supporting the Manchester City Football Club as a sponsor and also with branded content.

As part of an ongoing Do Whatever You Do campaign, a new digital short by Wix is an online video showing members of Manchester City, the iconic British football/soccer team Wix sponsors, “acquiring” skills as make-up artists after a real-life cosmetics-application whiz won a contest.

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