GoDaddy Names TBWA Its First Global Agency

Web-Hosting Company Looks to Expand Internationally, Take More Data-Driven Approach to Marketing

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GoDaddy has gradually toned down its once-risque advertising.
GoDaddy has gradually toned down its once-risque advertising.
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GoDaddy has selected Omnicom's TBWA as its first global agency, the company said.

The decision concludes a process that began with a request for proposals last spring, as the web-hosting company eyed international expansion after a $460 million inital public offering and the hiring of a new CMO, Phil Bienert.

The account will be run out of TBWA's New York office, but TBWA's pitch included offices in Brazil, Mexico, U.K, Turkey, China, India, Australia and Canada. TBWA also enlisted sibling Omnicom shops Interbrand for branding expertise and Critical Mass, which already had a relationship with GoDaddy, for digital.

Creative in the U.S. and Canada had been handled by Barton F. Graf 9000, which did not participate in the review. GoDaddy has used other shops overseas, as well as its in-house team, and while it may still enlist in-house services occasionally for duties like production, TBWA is now the company's go-to shop globally. GoDaddy earlier this year added a new media agency, Interpublic's Initiative, after previously handling media in-house.

"We're a fully international company with a large and growing presence in every region," Mr. Bienert said. "When we started to look at what was the most effective way for us to take advantage of the growth, we said it's time to have a partner who is with us consistently in every market and is able to help us consistently get our message out there."

GoDaddy was long known for Super Bowl ads that used sexual innuendo and outlandish humor to get attention for a dry line of business. It reversed plans to run a Super Bowl spot this year that depicted a puppy being sold online after the ad drew criticism in its pre-release.

But it has been pivoting toward international growth, focusing more intently on small business and shifting away from risque ads since Blake Irving became CEO in 2013. The company now intends to focus more on a data-driven approach to marketing, all the better to tailor messages to small businesses. The majority of GoDaddy's 13 million existing customers are very small businesses, according to the company, with five or fewer employees.

TBWA was chosen, Mr. Bienert said, because the agency understood where the company was trying to take its marketing, particularly with that data-driven, personalized approach. "We're taking advantage of our customer data and our data platforms, and we're creating a personalized marketing experience for any customer anywhere in the world, and they understood that," he said. "In their pitch they had a very similar data-driven approach and they understood what we were trying to do in ways that might differ from other marketers."

Work from TBWA is expected to begin in early 2016. The company has not yet decided whether it will air a Super Bowl ad in February.

For TBWA, the win comes after naming a number of senior executives in New York, including Rob Schwartz, the New York CEO since January. Mr. Schwartz was tasked with reinvigorating the New York office by attracting more global clients so it can restore its stature in TBWA's global network as a flagship. He had been global creative president, a role now filled by Chris Garbutt.

Troy Ruhanen, president-CEO of TBWA Worldwide, said the GoDaddy win is proof that the renewed focus on New York is working, particularly the office's effort to beef up its digital, data and analytics services.

"They've really stepped up and are moving in a global way with big ambitions," said Mr. Ruhanen of GoDaddy. "This is one of those times when a company says it is going to change, but their actions speak volumes. They're truly going to change the brand."

GoDaddy spent an estimated $24.7 million on measured media in the U.S. last year, according to Kantar Media.

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