With the news that Go Daddy has hired Duetsch for their Olympic campaign I wonder what their next campaign will be after nearly 5 years of using essentially the same material.
Sometimes it’s ok to fly in the face of convention. When horrible ideas actually turn out to work in favor of the original goals. The Go Daddy campaigns have been described by Chairman and Founder Bob Parsons as “fun, edgy, and a bit inappropriate.” What he means is they find a sexy lady and have her either allude to becoming naked or actually be naked. Still, the bottom line is that GoDaddys sexist ads worked.
This goes against a few basic principles in marketing that I’ve learned.
Don’t use sex to sell products that have nothing to do with sex
That was the number one rule I learned while studying sex in media at undergrad. Studies have proven it and I’m a believer. Now what that means is that sex doesn’t improve any measurable marketing efforts, not necessarily that it has an adverse effect.
If used in the right context sex certainly can improve marketability. Think of cologne commercials. They sell a product which can reasonably relate directly to sex. I would like to see a cologne company use really ugly people in their commercials, just to see what would happen. Likely, it would be most effective as comedy because of the humor found in the disassociation…but I digress.
The Carl’s Jr. Paris Hilton commercials (notice that they are age restricted!) are a prime example of when sex does not sell. Don’t look Paris in the eyes when she has a pound of Angus beef in her hands! Just trust me on that. After an initial small bump in sales with Ms. Hilton and Ms. Kardashian scarfing down their food sales continued to tank.
Don’t offend your audience
It’s pretty clear that these commercials are, as Parsons put it, “inappropriate” if not borderline sexist. I wouldn’t go full blown sexist on them, but you can bet your house that there are plenty of groups out there boycotting Go Daddy. Here’s one and another and here’s a petition.
I think the saving grace here for Go Daddy was that there was definitely some tongue in cheek used in these ads. They made it pretty apparent that they knew they were bringing their ads down to the lowest common denominator and that softens the sting so to speak.
So why are Go Daddy’s dirty sexist ads successful?
There are plenty of campaigns that have backfired due to much more egregious acts than Go Daddy. But still why break these rules? Well the obvious answer is that you are trying to get your name out there. And really, sometimes the obvious answer is the only one that matters.
The internet industry was booming again and the importance placed on a web presence was growing with it. They saw an opportunity to greatly expand their market by reaching out to “casual” consumers. There aren’t many well-known brands in the domain registry industry so Go Daddy set out to put themselves on the map. Did they reduce themselves to archaic good ol’ boys marketing? Yes. Did it work? Yes. Ask any layman what companies sell website domain names and they’ll likely be able to say Go Daddy and that’s all.
So where does Go Daddy go from here? Now that they have brand awareness do they keep pushing the same juvenile “hey she has boobs!” tactics or will they go in a completely different direction?