Sex sells. That is one indisputable fact of marketing, and businesses take full advantage of its efficacy. If you use sex to sell your hosting services, will people think your company specializes in adult hosting? Should hosting companies look at marketing a bit differently?
After Go Daddy's infamous Super Bowl 2013 advertisement, some might say yes. If you missed it, you could torture yourself by Googling it, but I will warn you: it might make you throw up a little in your mouth.
Go Daddy: The Commercial
First, something you are probably well aware of: Go Daddy is not an adult hosting provider. Yes, you can host adult content, but it's not what they specialize in. They offer email hosting and hosting of tame content as well as the more risky material.
In this ad, however, one might be led to believe that their specialty is indeed adult hosting. The ad begins with spokesperson Danica Patrick showing viewers the two sides of Go Daddy: “the sexy side, represented by Bar Refaeli”, a blonde bombshell, and “the smart side, that creates a killer website for your small business, represented by Walter”, your typical representation of a nerd. He is reminiscent of the character of Dennis Nedry in the movie Jurassic Park.
To solidify Patrick's point that the two sides work perfectly together, the camera zooms in uncomfortably close as the two go in for a horribly awkward kiss, complete with disgusting sound effects.
It should also be mentioned that this ad could have been even more uncomfortable: CBS rejected an earlier version of the ad. Why? According to Jesse Heiman, the actor portraying the nerd in the commercial, “It's just, you know, a lot of tongue action.” That must be a LOT of tongue action to be banned.
Go Daddy: The Big Question
Whether you loved it or hated it, the fact is the marketing style used in the Go Daddy spot works. There are only a small number of folks who would actually connect Go Daddy exclusively to an adult hosting company. Go Daddy has a long history, nine years in fact, running ads during the Super Bowl. By now, people know that's just how the company sells their service.
In fact, in an interview with Forbes, the senior executive VP and chief marketing officer, Barb Rechterman (yes, she's a woman!) points to the fact that all Super Bowl ads are designed to grab a viewer's attention to the extent they spend the next day talking about it with friends and co-workers.
The Super Bowl ad from this year, however uncomfortable for viewers, was most definitely etched in their minds. Rechterman knows the marketing was effective no matter what viewers thought of it simply because the very next day after the ad ran, they had their best sales day in history.
Go Daddy: Accusations
Some say that the ad is sexist and stereotypical. Rechterman assures that it was not the intention, she didn't even see a stereotypical problem with the ad until the question was asked. No matter if people thought it was depicting a typical dumb blonde, relying on the smart, unattractive man to save her: Rechterman says this is absolutely not the case.
Instead, it is just a commercial that will burn itself into your brain, to the point you are discussing it with everyone, thereby exposing the brand to others.
At the end of the day, all that matters for Go Daddy are sales. It's obvious that there are those out there that jumped right on board with the cheap hosting and email hosting company, as Go Daddy expected, because of the ad.
However, there are many people who are so turned off by these ads, they wouldn't touch the company or their services with a thirty-foot pole. Does this segment of consumers walk away from the ad thinking that Go Daddy is strictly an adult hosting company, or do they just despise their advertising tactics to the point they refuse to do business with them? We can't say.
Do you feel that Go Daddy went too far with this year's Super Bowl advertisement? Do you find anything wrong with selling hosting services using sex?