Go Daddy Hopes Super Bowl Ads Are Risque Again

Go Daddy continues to air previews of risque commercials.

Feb. 4, 2011 — -- While more than 100 million people are expected to watch Super Bowl XLV this Sunday evening in homes and bars across the country, employees of the domain name company Go Daddy will be working diligently at their headquarters in Scottsdale, Ariz.

"Are you kidding me? It's a work day," said the company's founder and CEO, Bob Parsons.

As Go Daddy's seventh Super Bowl advertising campaign goes live, a large number of the company's 2,950 employees will be glued to computer monitors tracking visits to its website.

It is hard to imagine anyone arguing with Parsons about the importance of its racy Super Bowl campaigns to the company's bottom line. Its advertising strategy, which has included ads with IndyCar driver Danica Patrick and fitness coach Jillian Michaels, has put the brand squarely in the Super Bowl milieu.

This year, the company is continuing its strategy of airing previews of risque commercials to pique the interest of Super Bowl viewers enough that they continue watching them on the Go Daddy website.

"We start with an edgy TV ad and have a much edgier Internet-only version," said Parsons. "The formula works for us. It gets people to our website."

This Sunday, one commercial will feature Patrick and Michaels and another will be a new "Go Daddy Girl" spot.

"She's a Hollywood icon, so you will recognize her immediately," said Parsons, without revealing the identity of the celebrity. "When the idea came up, we knew it was a good idea, and I believe she agreed pretty quickly."

The new spokeswoman will promote the Web domain extension .co, which is an abbreviation of .com and the code assigned to the country of Colombia.

"It's an abbreviated dotcom and it's going to be defined as a better dotcom," said Parsons. "We've got the people behind it and promoting it."

Before the company began airing Super Bowl commercials, it had 16 percent market share of new domain registrations.

After the first Super Bowl commercial in 2005, which was a spoof of Janet Jackson's wardrobe malfunction from the previous year, the company's market share increased to 25 percent.

Now, the company manages half the websites in the country.

Go Daddy staff members understand that the Super Bowl campaign is vital to the business, even if it means watching the biggest game of the year away from home. Plus, employees can earn built-in vacation for the first three weeks of the year so that all hands are on deck on Sunday.

Parsons, who will be enjoying the game in his office with ginger ale, a bowl of popcorn and "surrounded by computers," said the ads have led to "tremendous growth."

He welcomes the controversy and buzz the edgy ads sometimes provoke because it leads to greater brand recognition and sales.

"Nobody copies us because they're afraid to be as politically incorrect as we are," said Parsons. "But it works for us."

The company expects to make $1.1 billion in sales this year.

Parsons said about 80 percent of viewers are fans of the advertising campaigns while 15 percent find them offensive.

"People who are offended are very vocal and talk about it and they're actually our evangelists," said Parsons. "People go home and look up the ad."

Whether you like the ads or not, they seem to be successful with the younger, target audience of the Super Bowl, according to Stephen A. Greyser, professor of sports business at the Harvard Business School.

"They wouldn't be doing this for the seventh year if it didn't work for them," said Greyser. "These ads serve as a signature for the company."

While Go Daddy does not comment on its ad spending, the price tag for Go Daddy's two ads could be at least $6 million. According to Greyser Super Bowl ads average around $3 million per 30 second spot.

Parsons said once people learn about the company, the value from the company's products do the rest of the selling. He said Go Daddy's products, such as domain names and secure certificates, have better pricing than competitors like Symantec and include free customer support from "highly paid and tenured" employees in the U.S., every hour of the day, and seven days a week.

Even Parsons admits that the sex appeal of the ads is a bit of a non-sequitur to the actual business of domain name registrations.

"Domain names themselves can be as edgy as saw dust," said Parsons. "But we've attached a brand to it and the brand can be exciting in itself."