Super Bowl

GoDaddy Will Sit Out Super Bowl 50, Ending a Run Dating Back to 2005

New Marketing Strategy Prompts Decision to Punt

By Published on .

Danica Patrick bulks up for GoDaddy.
Danica Patrick bulks up for GoDaddy.

After a decade of airing some of the most cringeworthy Super Bowl spots in the history of the Big Game, GoDaddy has decided to punt on the opportunity to appear in February's broadcast.

The call to exit advertising's biggest event comes a day after GoDaddy named WPP's MEC its first-ever global media planning and buying agency of record, and a month after the web domain registrar tapped Omnicom's TBWA to spearhead its worldwide marketing strategy.

In an email to Ad Age, a GoDaddy rep said the call to sit out Super Bowl 50 is a function of the company's ongoing shift away from "high-level domestic brand awareness to a more personalized, data-driven marketing approach."

The GoDaddy exec added that while its past Super Bowl efforts have raised the brand's profile considerably, the time has come to "move beyond the generic megaphone of a SB campaign to a more targeted brand of marketing. We can 'talk' to the segment of the SB audience we want (very small business owners) and do it in a more personal and timely way."

Sidelining itself will save GoDaddy anywhere from $4.7 million to $5 million in airtime, plus the millions of dollars it costs to produce a Super Bowl-quality spot.

GoDaddy began buying time in the Super Bowl back in 2005, when it aired a spoof of the Janet Jackson "wardrobe malfunction" mishegas that rocked the previous year's halftime show. While the racy spot was scheduled to air twice during Fox's coverage of Super Bowl XXXIX, the network pre-empted the second run with an in-house promo for "The Simpsons."

After the game, Fox's then-ad sales president, Jon Nesvig, said the GoDaddy spot was pulled because it was "very much out of step with the tenor set by the other ads." The reprise was set to air in the final two minutes of the Patriots-Eagles nailbiter.

Despite missing out on as many as 100 million impressions, GoDaddy continued to submit sexually charged ads in its subsequent Super Bowl run, many of which featured Nascar driver Danica Patrick. Although the company began toning down its messaging in recent years, it still managed to stir things up with its less prurient spots. In last year's game, GoDaddy ruffled feathers with an ad that was construed by some as a tacit endorsement of puppy mills.

GoDaddy's new marketing strategy was foreshadowed in April, when the company announced that it would no longer sponsor Ms. Patrick and her No. 10 car as of the 2016 racing season. GoDaddy had served as her primary backer since 2010, and was an associate sponsor for the three years leading up to that.

Super Bowl 50 is set to kick off on Sunday, Feb. 7. CBS Corp. president and CEO Les Moonves last week told investors that the network was holding back a few spots for latecomers in the studio category. All things being equal, CBS could book north of $400 million in in-game ad sales.

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