After hinting that it would discontinue its renowned Super Bowl ads, domain name registrar Go Daddy has had a change of heart and confirmed that it will indeed be back as an advertiser for Super Bowl XLII on Feb. 3. "It's a go," CEO Bob Parsons wrote last week on his blog. "We finally decided to once again be a Super Bowl advertiser. Now we are very busy trying to come up with just the right creative." Each 30-second spot is expected to cost $2.7 million.
The Super Bowl ads have been a factor in the phenomenal growth of Go Daddy, which hosts more sites than any other hosting company in the world, manages more than 20 million domains and has 4 million customers. It is the best known brand in the booming domain industry, largely through a promotional strategy that has blended high-profile ad campaigns with savvy use of new media, including blogs and podcasts. To accommodate its growth, Go Daddy expanded its data center infrastructure by buying a 270,000 square foot facility in Phoenix.
Go Daddy's breakthrough moment came in 2005, when its provocative Super Bowl commercial featuring WWE diva Candice Michelle generated controversy. After the ad aired in the first quarter, NFL executives pressured Fox to cancel a scheduled second showing of the company's edgy commercial. The broadcast monitoring firm MultiVision estimated that the Super Bowl controversy supplied Go Daddy with the equivalent of $11.7 million in free publicity. Go Daddy saw a huge surge in domain registrations in 2005.
This year Go Daddy has expanded its media buys with sponsorship of the Indy 500 and ESPN College Football. Its recent hiring of swimming gold medalist and Playboy model Amanda Beard is a pretty clear sign that Go Daddy will have major promotions tied to the 2008 Olympics. In August Parsons said that Go Daddy might forego the Super Bowl in 2008, noting that the company is already the leading brand in the domain market.
Many have debated whether Go Daddy's edgy ads actually help sell domain names and hosting services. Parsons notes that Go Daddy's share of the domain market was 16 percent prior to the 2005 ad, and has now reached 38 percent. The ads never mention how many gigs of disk space you get or monthly bandwidth allowances. But they command attention, and this year's ad will likely be no different.
"As good as our overall offering is, the simple fact is customers need to know we exist before they will do business with us," Parsons noted. "This is where the Super Bowl and Go Daddy's edgy advertising have made a big difference."