Not shy to taking risks, GoDaddy has again sparked controversy and buzz surrounding their Super Bowl ad for 2015; however, this year, the buzz and controversy arrived before warm-ups for the game have even started. Management at the web hosting company has pulled their 30-second spot before their ad had the chance to air during the big game on Sunday. With many companies vying for viewers’ attention and the spotlight during the phenomenon that is Super Bowl Sunday, as marketers, we have to ask: is “pulling your ad” the new Super Bowl stunt?
While pre-releasing ads in the days or week leading up to the Super Bowl has become commonplace for brands to gain extra attention before the three-hour television craziness of the biggest event of pop culture/sports/ advertising combination, GoDaddy has set a new standard for brands, whether intentionally or luckily.
After nearly 24 hours of releasing the ad, GoDaddy CEO, Blake Irving, announced that he would pull their ad and not run it during the Super Bowl, which sparked immediate media and social media chatter. Regardless if the catalyst for the coverage is the ad itself or pulling of the ad, GoDaddy is quickly becoming the most-talked about brand surrounding the Super Bowl, four days before the game, for an ad that is not even airing.
Media outlets that have covered this brouhaha include CNNMoney, USA Today, EOnline, Ad Week, Business Insider, TODAY Show, Good Morning America, Huffington Post, US Weekly, Mashable, TIME and more – basically, a PR gold mine. In practically each of these media clips, the ad is displayed or was aired. In a statement, Irving did say that viewers would still see GoDaddy in the Super Bowl, adding, “we [GoDaddy] hope it makes you laugh.” GoDaddy has achieved the hype and attendance of two Super Bowl ads for the price of one, ingeniously. Millions have still viewed the pulled ad or have been exposed to it and, assumingly, just as many people are actively searching for the ad online to watch. Allow me to repeat: people are actively searching for the ad online to watch. GoDaddy has accomplished the goal and dream of every marketer, publicist and executive for consumers to actively seek out your brand.
As expected, masses took to Twitter with their distaste for the ad, even signing a petition to pull the ad from the game. From a PR standpoint, Irving and GoDaddy responded impeccably well via Twitter and the official statement surrounding the hullabaloo of the ad: evoking emotion, addressing issue, relating to the audience and taking action. GoDaddy apparently also issued a press release on January 14, one week prior to releasing the ad, introducing their “Chief Companion Officer,” the puppy featured in the ad. The press release shared information about the commercial shoot with “Buddy,” GoDaddy’s focus on small businesses and their already-established Pet Therapy program. People may still have an issue with the ad, but Irving has eliminated the chance that people will argue with how they handled the situation or if GoDaddy was prepared.
GoDaddy is sitting pretty now. They conveniently had a back-up ad ready for the 30-second spot during the big game. Regardless if the back-up ad returns to GoDaddy’s risqué roots, pulls on your heartstrings, totally flops in the best ad ever, the worst ad ever or somewhere in the middle, we expect people will still comment on it and further extend the hype around GoDaddy.
Well played, GoDaddy.
Written By Mary Paolantonio