After this year's Super Bowl, I just couldn't do it anymore. As it was, any time I had to log on to Go Daddy I felt some combination of embarrassment and annoyance at the registrar's approach to women and marketing. But after its execrable ad efforts around this year's game, I found that I just couldn't stomach contributing anything to this organization any longer. I'm transferring my domains and my insignificant little piece of business elsewhere.
Now, I tend to be a bit of a free-speech type. I'm generally bothered by people and groups that attempt to silence advertisers for their "controversial" messages (probably because the complainers tend to be religious groups like the Family Research Council toward whom I feel a molecular-level antipathy). I don't stand on PC ceremony and, frankly, I dislike being put in the position of having to storm off in a self-righteous huff.
As an advertising journalist I am aware that Go Daddy's marketing has, from inception, oriented itself around the boobies. When the company manufactured its first bit of controversy in 2005, well, it wasn't a banner day for feminism or advertising, but one sort of gave the company an eye roll and a pass -- it was getting its name out on the Super Bowl using the most old-school, obvious means possible. For the next few years, I suppose I stopped paying attention. And let's be honest, I'm lazy. Transferring a domain to another registrar is not a huge undertaking, but it's more of an undertaking than quietly disagreeing.
But this year, for me, and I hope many like me, apathy was beaten down by the feeling of revulsion at being treated with such contempt by a marketer. Yes, the company's brand persona makes me feel unwelcome as a woman. But Go Daddy's advertising has gotten to the point where I'm not even sure it's about the sexism anymore. What I can no longer countenance is the sheer stupidity, the breathtaking inanity (to quote my favorite U.S. district judge) of the marketing communications coming from what is meant to be a major player in this sector of the internet economy. The ads offend me as a human being. In short, I just don't want to be associated with this company on any level.
At this point you may have noticed something that clouds my argument somewhat -- I am, erm, a Go Daddy customer. A few years back when I started registering domain names, like many, I just immediately went to the only company that sprang to mind. So the ads worked and that's the beginning and the end of this argument, right? Well, not quite. Go Daddy's case raises some interesting questions. Is any awareness good awareness anymore? And can a brand maintain growth by just continuing to pump out any kind of garbage that has traditionally guaranteed eyeballs?
The Go Daddy people grabbed for awareness by advertising in the Super Bowl in 2005, and they got it. But that's just not good enough five years later. Anyone turned off by any aspect of a brand experience (and judging from Twitter noise during and after Super Bowl XLIII, there are plenty of people who have reached their limit on Go Daddy) has an infinite amount of feedback available online. There, you'll find a lot of conflicting opinions on registrars. Go Daddy gets enough icky feedback, that my choice was made easier (the company touts its service, but based on my own limited experience and research -- meh). To be honest, no one company stood out as a beacon of quality, but, all things being equal, I'm going with one that doesn't make my skin crawl.
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Teressa Iezzi is the editor of Creativity magazine and Creativity-Online.com.