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Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

November 20, 2017   |   Ithaca, NY

Sports

Between the lines: score one Go-Daddy

It was offensive to all sorts of people, and it was eventually voted worst ad of the night. Despite all this, GoDaddy.com may have had this year’s most effective Super Bowl commercial.

It was initially hard for me to fathom this concept. The commercial featured supermodel Bar Refaeli making out with a geeky looking guy, with close ups that were way too close and sound effects that were way too clear. It prompted reactions like “ew,” “gross” and “I just threw up in my mouth” at my Super Bowl party.

But it was still one of the commercials that you remembered, wasn’t it? Professor Scott Hamula, chair of the department of strategic communication, said that was the entire point of the ad and what made it so effective.

“The advertising agency is saying that it was a strategic decision to make a terrible ad so that people would talk about it,” Hamula said. “And they still are talking about it a few days later.”

USA Today conducts an online poll each year, known as the “ad-meter,” and the winner of that competition is generally considered the most popular ad of the game. This year’s winner was the all-too-cute Budweiser commercial about the baby Clydesdale growing up, while GoDaddy finished dead last. Despite the lack of popularity, the ad is generating a buzz with more than 1,500 news stories written about it — many about its gross-out factor, offensiveness and even for coming in last on the ad meter.

“I think it was a mean-spirited ad,” Hamula said. “I think it stereotyped men, women, information technology people and models, and people are losing sight of that.”

Hamula said Super Bowl commercials tend to fall into two camps: those that focus primarily on entertainment, hoping viewers will remember it was a particular brand that made the memorable commercial, and those that seek to connect the brand to the entertainment on the spot. Hamula said that GoDaddy has switched its strategy in the past two years and now tends to try to make a point about its service through the use of models and geeky characters.

“It used to be shock-value, grab your attention and by the way — this is GoDaddy,” Hamula said. “This year and last year they have been pairing a model to represent the energy of GoDaddy with a geeky guy to say there is a lot that goes on behind the scenes.”

GoDaddy pulled a fast one on the entire country. Everyone woke up Monday morning lambasting the commercial, but in the end, they were playing right into the company’s strategy. The 49ers could have used some of that “outside the box” thinking on their final three plays from the five-yard line during the actual game.