Above, the latest Super Bowl ad from domain name registrar GoDaddy.com.
In a phony courtroom, women are accused of being "enhanced", a charge each denies with increasing vehemence, until real-life racing driver Danica Patrick, a long-time spokesperson for domain name registrar Go Daddy, proudly asserts that she's "enhanced my image with a domain name and a website from GoDaddy.com". Another accused woman balks at Patrick's use of the term "enhanced," then begins to rip open her shirt to "show you enhanced". Before her fake breasts are exposed, the commercial cuts to black, enticing viewers to see the "unrated" content at GoDaddy.com.
It was, according to data from TiVo, the most rewatched ad of the Super Bowl. But it's also provoking an unwanted response from several customers online, who are ready to ditch GoDaddy for other registrars.
Scott Hepburn wrote, "My site is hosted with GoDaddy. The ad was something I'd expect from a teenage boy, and has shaped my view of their service." Jon Garfunkel started a campaign called "Service Over Supermodels", asking women people to cover their bare chests with a sign requesting GoDaddy improve their service. (Garfunkel is, so far, the only one who has accepted his offer.) A competiting registrar, NameCheap.com, posted a sidebar ad campaign asking customers to "Make the Super Bowl Switch" to a service with "no obtrusive, offensive, or biased ads." Network Solutions, another registrar (and one I find equally jerky, historically), found that mentions of their company on Twitter have gone up ten-fold.
Former Lifehacker editor Gina Trapani is getting ready to move her domains, so I asked her why. Gina said the ads "made me feel like I register my web site domains at a Hooters. Nothing against Hooters, but that's just not the image I want to portray when someone whois's my sites. (Sorry, Danica.)"
Not everyone is upset about the ads. In fact, many are surprised that GoDaddy customers are just now paying attention to the company's advertising strategy, which has in fact for years involved lots of T&A, especially in their Super Bowl ads.
"Surprised by the GoDaddy backlash," writes Brian Carter, a stand-up comedian and self-proclaimed "Google AdWords genius", "did you guys JUST realize their whole marketing strategy was hot chicks?"