Perhaps the biggest boost for Go Daddy was provided by NFL executives, who pressured Fox to cancel a scheduled second showing of the company's edgy commercial, launching hundreds of news stories (a Google news search finds more than 2,700 stories mentioning Go Daddy) and probably saving the company the $2.4 million fee in the process. Minutes after the game's conclusion, Go Daddy CEO Bob Parsons used his personal weblog to break the news of the ad's cancellation.
Apple Computer demonstrated the power of a Super Bowl ad with its 1984 ad. While lacking the aesthetic and symbolic impact of Apple's legendary ad, Go Daddy's spot was the most replayed commercial from this year's game, according to stats compiled by Tivo. The 30-second ad was supported by an extended marketing campaign that tied into many hot trends in coverage by blogs and the traditional news media:
- The Dot-Com Controversy: In 2000, Super Bowl ads become a symbol of dot-com excess. Shortly after Go Daddy was identified as a Super Bowl advertisers, pundits at Clickz and Brand Autopsy wondered aloud about the wisdom of the strategy, gaining links from numerous marketing and advertising blogs.
- The CEO Blog: Parsons became one of a small but growing number of blogging CEOs, a trend closely watched by strategists pondering how to leverage blogs in the corporate world (there's even a CEO Blogs web site). Parsons used his blog to break news and respond to coverage elsewhere.
- The Hot Button Topic: Go Daddy and its agency guessed correctly that the backlash to Janet Jackson's "wardrobe malfunction" last year would be a hot media issue both before and after the game, and plugged into the controversy with a topical commercial that tested the comfort levels of Fox and, ultimately, the NFL.
- The Straight-to-Web Ad: Go Daddy prepared a second ad which was rejected by Fox, which Parsons promptly blogged about. The company then made the "banned" ad available on its web site. The incident gets widely blogged (yes, including here) and more buzz ensues.
- The Cancelled Ad: After the first Go Daddy ad aired, NFL chief operating officer Roger Godell expressed "disappointment" to Fox, which pulled the second airing of the spot, scheduled for the fourth quarter. Huge publicity ensues. Go Daddy, which paid $4.8 million in advance for the two 30-second ads, is seeking to get its money back for the second spot. "We would like to avoid resorting to working through the court system, but won’t hesitate to do so if we feel it is necessary," Parsons writes.
"Overall, I am comfortable that we did nothing wrong," Parsons wrote on his blog after the game. "In fact, I believe our commercial will be mentioned and shown for many years to come."
When we first noted Go Daddy's Super Bowl strategy, we described it as a "bold bid to raise its brand awareness beyond the web hosting community." It has certainly accomplished that. Will it help the company sell more domains and web sites? Watch this space, as the Netcraft Hosting Provider Switching Analysis will monitor whether Go Daddy's new fame translates into additional business.