You don’t know Jesse Heiman by name, but you have seen his face hundreds of times — because the 34-year-old Texan is one of Hollywood’s favorite background extras.
Heiman has appeared — briefly — in over 100 popular films and TV shows: “Parks and Recreation,” “The Mindy Project,” “The Social Network,” “Old School,” “Austin Powers: Goldmember,” “Spider-Man,” “Catch Me If You Can” and “Bones,” just to name a few. He’s played a water fountain drinker, a chemistry class student and a winking comic book nerd, among others.
Now Heiman is adding “GoDaddy Super Bowl ad star” and “professional supermodel kisser” to his resume.
In GoDaddy’s new 2013 Super Bowl ad, “Perfect Match,” which was released online today and will air during the Super Bowl on Sunday, Heiman plays “Walter,” a representative of the geeky “smart side” of GoDaddy that “creates a killer website for your small business.”
“Walter” gets to make out with the “sexy side” of GoDaddy, represented by supermodel Bar Refaeli, for roughly 12 seconds. He then pulls back with a sheepish smile on his face. GoDaddy regular Danica Patrick makes an appearance too.
The tagline is, “When sexy meets smart, your small business scores.”
Barb Rechterman, the chief marketing officer for GoDaddy, said CBS, the television network that is broadcasting the Super Bowl this year, rejected the first version of the ad because Heiman “used a little tongue.” They had to scale down the kissing a bit.
“He had never kissed a supermodel before,” Rechterman said. “It was really funny. The makeup would come over and work on Danica or Bar and Jesse would be next to them saying, ‘Hey, I need some lip balm here.’”
The commercial had 45 takes.
Rechterman said Heiman was completely professional during taping but when she asked him on set how he was doing, she said he paused for a moment.
“And he said he felt like he had just won the championship of men,” Rechterman said.
Don’t worry. That first version of the ad — the one with more tongue — will be posted on GoDaddy’s website on Sunday.
Casting Heiman, from the 50 people who auditioned for the spot, was happenstance. Rechterman said they had cut a spot with another male actor, but when they showed it to GoDaddy’s founder, Bob Parsons, he told her, “You can do better.” They did a second round of casting calls and in walked Heiman.
As it turns out, Heiman’s personal website is registered with GoDaddy.com. (Full disclosure: so is this reporter’s).
The 30-second “Perfect Match” spot was created by the New York ad agency Deutsch and plays into the provocative theme that has become synonymous with GoDaddy. You didn’t think their previously released, much tamer 2013 Super Bowl ad, “YouBigIdea.CO,” which shows people around the world talking about a website idea, was all they had, did you?
Risque ads showing super-hot women have been GoDaddy’s trademark since 2005, when model Candice Michelle appeared in the company’s first Super Bowl ad. Rechterman said they went down that road because at that time a company survey showed people didn’t know what the brand was.
According to GoDaddy, the company had 16 percent of the website-hosting market before it started using models in their ads. Now they have just over 50 percent. Rechterman said the ads are meant in “good, light-hearted fun,” with the purpose of engaging the company’s 11 million customers.
“We wanted to make sure that we were, in essence, kind of redefining what sexy is… sexy in our customers and technology,” Rechterman said. “We feel our customers are sexy and we want to celebrate our customers.”
So the moral of the story is… sex sells?
“Yep,” Rechterman said. “And you know what? They worked like a champ and they built us a huge campaign.”