GoDaddy Bares Babe-less Repositioning
GoDaddy, which made a mixed-bag name for itself under founder, former CEO and current executive chairman Bob Parsons by stirring up controversy over salacious ads that were often tweaked before they were allowed to air, is rebranding and retargeting its message to the small businesses that make up the bulk of its market.
There’s a new CEO in town, tech industry veteran Blake Irving (an MBA with notable stints at Microsoft and Yahoo), and its notoriously scantily clad beauties -- including racing car driver Danica Patrick -- are taking a back seat to the message “It’s Go Time.”
In an email to customers yesterday, Irving said that “the world's largest web host and domain provider” had earlier this year “embarked on an effort to learn more about you, what makes you so incredibly unique, and the values you all have in common. In the process,” it continued, “we learned an equal amount about ourselves, and we're making changes to reflect that new clarity.”
Stuart Elliott had the details in the New York Times yesterday on a new campaign out of Deutsch New York that stars action-movie actor Jean-Claude Van Damme. In one execution called “The Baker” that broke last night, Van Damme is an impossibly limber, bongo- and marimba-playing sprite in the kitchen of a pizza maker who has been inundated by orders on his new GoDaddy-powered website. “Huh,” you say? Check it out here.
“The Van Damme campaign is ‘meme-able,’” Irving tells Elliott, “--that is, likely to generate positive attention through being shared by consumers in social media.”
The “GoDaddy-esque” ads generated under the Parson regime were no doubt “meme-able,” too, but reactions to them were often less than positive, and I can personally vouch for the fact that the company’s persona made it embarrassing for a small business owner to admit that his or her domain name registrar or service provider was GoDaddy.
Irving tells Elliott that the new campaign operates from the perspective that advertising “doesn’t have to push customers away: still edgy, still fun, still entertaining, still irreverent” but “talking in a more grown-up way, doing things that are hilarious, memorable and don’t polarize.”
“The Baker” was also Adweek’s “Ad of the Day” with Emma Bazilian writing “Go Daddy is working hard to achieve a sort of hip bizarreness here -- Jean-Claude Van Damme playing the bongos?! OMG, so random! -- but nonetheless, it's nice to see the brand try something that doesn't involve a buxom model in a tiny tank top.”
GoDaddy employees, looking decidedly professional in a laid-back sort of way, are the stars of a “Manifesto of Kick Ass” posted to YouTube earlier this week. “What inspires the GoDaddy team? YOU,” reads the description. “Helping small business owners and anyone else with a dream to do more is what we love to do.”
“As part of today’s unveiling, GoDaddy has launched a simplified website experience with a crisp design, a more intuitive interface and a streamlined checkout process,” according to a press release. “The expanded development team has re-built GoDaddy’s popular Website Builder product, making it easy for anyone to create a beautiful website in short order, no matter their level of technical expertise.”
CMO Barb Rechterman tells Street Fight’s Steven Jacobs that GoDaddy undertook a study of its customers a year ago that uncovered the fact that a good proportion ran very small businesses (VSBs) with one-to-five employees. “Most of the solutions that are being offered to small businesses today are ‘enterprise level solutions,’ and it’s because companies tend to define these small businesses as companies with 25-50 employees,” Rechterman says.
Irving, meanwhile, tells VentureBeat’s Rebecca Grant that he wants to make it as easy as possible for people without tech skills to build robust online businesses.
“How do you enable someone who may not be tech savvy to come online and make a business for themselves? That to me is the American dream -- the ability to take an idea and make it a reality,” he says.
A new logo incorporates the “It’s go time” tagline. “This is the radical shift we knew we had to make and it’s more than just marketing,” Irving says in a statement. “A brand is a promise to our customers and a commitment to understand their needs. Our mission is to ‘fight the good fight for the go-getter.’”
Adweek’s Bazilian -- who’s “hoping that next winter we might be spared the annual Super Bowl cringe fest” -- is one among many who are gleefully observing the repositioning from ringside.