GoDaddy Seeks Global Brand Agency Partner

Web Hosting Company Moves Away From Brand Building to More Data-Driven Approach

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GoDaddy Super Bowl spot with Danica Patrick.
GoDaddy Super Bowl spot with Danica Patrick.

Web hosting company GoDaddy, which raised $460 million in an initial public offering last month, today is issuing a request for proposals for a global brand agency.

Barton F. Graf 9000 is currently GoDaddy's agency of record for the U.S. and Canada. It's not clear whether it will be participating in the review.

"We are still finalizing the list," said Phil Bienert, who was named CMO in March and succeeds Barb Rechterman, who is now chief customer officer at GoDaddy.

Executives at Barton F. Graf could not be reached for comment.

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

"We felt the time was right for us to be looking for a global agency partner to take our brand global," Mr. Bienert said. "The criteria are that agencies have global scale, that they have a presence doing brand advertising in multiple markets -- not just in North America but in Asia Pacific, Latin America and Europe – and that they understand our brand and our mission."

GoDaddy, which is known for its outlandish Super Bowl commercials -- such as "Perfect Match," in which supermodel Bar Refaeli kisses a nerd, and "The Journey Home," which it pulled at the last minute after backlash over the storyline of a lost puppy returning home, only to be sold online -- wants to focus on a more data-driven, personalized approach to marketing, Mr. Bienert said.

"If you look at what the Super Bowl has done for the company to help us grow the brand domestically, it was successful in the first market we were in," Mr. Bienert said. "It's one of the reasons GoDaddy has grown to be the company it is, with 81% aided brand awareness and 59 million domain names."

Now, he said, "We're ready to push beyond broad domestic campaigns and leverage our small-business data platform as a key ingredient in our global brand marketing."

Mr. Bienert said GoDaddy, which serves more than 13 million customers -- most of whom are small-business owners -- has small-business data that will help it target audiences with more personalized messages. One of the things it's looking for in an agency partner is the ability to develop locally-relevant marketing to show how GoDaddy helps entrepreneurs and small business owners grow their business, he said.

In another recent marketing change, GoDaddy announced last month that it would not renew its sponsorship of NASCAR driver Danica Patrick -- who has starred in 13 GoDaddy Super Bowl commercials -- although it is continuing to talk to Ms. Patrick about other types of opportunities.

"The NASCAR sponsorship has been great for the brand domestically, but we are no longer in a brand-building mode domestically," Mr. Bienert said. "That is why we want to find the right agency partner to collaborate with and ask, 'What comes next for GoDaddy?'"

Mr. Bienert said the company hopes to have a global agency partner selected by the end of the summer, with new work coming out by the end of the year.

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