GoDaddy Trades its Usual ‘Jiggle’ Tactics for a Different Kind of Hard Body in New Campaign


One of the cheekiest brands in the realm of mainstream advertising is going from GoDaddy-esque to GoDaddy-ish with a new advertising campaign and refined brand positioning as well as some improvements to its actual products and services.

Ever synonymous with risque TV and online advertising through its use of jiggle and tease via racecar driver Danica Patrick and other lesser-known attractive females, under new leadership the online-services brand has begun running a new ad today that distances GoDaddy significantly from its previous provocative approach, which founder Bob Parsons affectionately called “GoDaddy-esque.”

Now GoDaddy hopes its ad featuring action movie star Jean-Claude Van Damme will provoke its small business-owner audience in another way: to consider GoDaddy as more than just a clever advertiser and as a potentially crucial helpmate to people trying to build a business.[more]

“We got a lot of attention” for years of ads that relied on titillation, often played during the Super Bowl on TV, and got even more risque online, Blake Irving, GoDaddy’s relatively new CEO and chief brand strategist, told the New York Times. “We were edgy, funny. We were also on the edge of inappropriate.”

In particular, Blake discovered, his predecessors in building the company may have ignored the fact that the blatantly chauvinistic ads based completely on sex appeal got attention for GoDaddy and certainly built awareness—but perhaps only for the existence of the brand, not for its actual basket of services that include website hosting and building. What’s more, there was evidence that this male-oriented approach turned off many women business owners.

There is another way to advertise, Irving told the Times, that “doesnt’ have to push customers away: still edgy, still fun, still entertaining, still irreverent” but “talking in a more grown-up way, doing things that are hilarious, memorable and don’t polarize.”

In its first such effort, GoDaddy relies on Van Damme to pull action-guy moves and serve as a sort of live-in cheerleader for a GoDaddy customer and entrepreneur, a baker who has a lot of orders to fill. The movie star exhorts him, pulls some stunts and declares, “It’s go time.” The baker pulls through. On screen, the words, “More business. More ready. It’s go time” appear and then Van Damme whispers: “It’s go time. GoDaddy.”

The TV ad began running on the same day that Irving e-mailed a message to GoDaddy customers that explained how the brand “learned … about ourselves” and is “making changes to reflect that new clarity.” Besides the new advertising angle, they include streamlining GoDaddy’s own website, “making everything from domain search to checkout easier and more intuitive,” and improving popular products such as Website Builder.

That all only leaves one question: Will GoDaddy return to Super Bowl advertising in 2014? And will it bring Patrick along?