Supposed Battle with ABC Censors Garners Publicity

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NEW YORK ( -- Whether is actually battling ABC censors or simply fighting to get some publicity, one thing is clear -- it’s winning. ABC accepted the first Super Bowl ad yesterday and the Internet domain name registry company has bought a second. And, according to CEO Bob Parsons’ blog, this happened only after Godaddy submitted 13 commercials.

While ABC confirmed that the first ad has been purchased, it hasn’t confirmed the second -- and said nothing at all about rejecting a raft of ads because they were too hot for the big game.

Godaddy was relatively unknown until it ran an ad in last year’s Super Bowl featuring a scantily clad woman appearing before a congressional decency committee. This year, it has become a virtual publicity factory. Mr. Parsons has received media coverage at almost every stage of his quest to buy an ad for the big game this Sunday in Detroit. He has now posted a timeline on his blog,, with a blow-by-blow account of when each ad was submitted to the network. He has also posted videos or storyboards of each of the submissions. Mr. Parsons did not return calls.

The ad that will appear is a variation on last year’s theme. This time around, “Godaddy Girl” Candice Michelle, once again on the verge of a wardrobe malfunction, appears before an elderly network censor. As he thinks to himself, “Last year it was the strap ... please stay on,” the strap pops and the old man grabs his oxygen mask.

The ad will be the second message showing in the sixth break of the first half.

Inventory issues’s purchase of a second ad so close to the game indicates that ABC has inventory it's trying to unload. Despite reports that the network is still trying to package in ESPN properties as it sells last-minute inventory, a source with knowledge of the deals said that was not the case. While packaging in multiple properties was an early strategy to sell ads during the upfront, buyers have reported they were able to buy Super Bowl ads independently.

It’s unclear exactly how many spots ABC has left to sell, but they are all in the second half.

It’s not unusual for a network to take its Super Bowl sales down to the wire. Last year, Fox was sold out by the Thursday before the game, according to an executive familiar with the sales. But one media buyer reported that in 2004, CBS closed a sale on the bus on the way to the game. Last-minute spots can sell for well under $2 million. It would be unusual for a network to hold out on selling a last-minute spot and instead run a house ad. After all, said one buyer, “what you don’t sell, you lose.”

No information was available for Godaddy’s second ad. Last year, the second scheduled airing of a Godaddy ad was squashed by Fox, which was broadcasting the Super Bowl.

Last year’s Godaddy commerical was Bob Garfield’s fourth favorite ad for all of 2005. “No work of art, but still the highlight of the Super Bowl,” he wrote in Advertising Age.

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