Since Bob Parsons founded GoDaddy in 1997, it has vaulted to be the largest domain name registrar in the world—over twice as large as it’s nearest competitor. Although their business model was founded upon “cheap” domain names and other domain/hosting services, GoDaddy is perhaps best known for its racy advertising.
After stepping back from an IPO launch in 2006, GoDaddy got a capital infusion in 2011 from a couple of private equity firms, along with a third investor, for nearly 2.5 billion—amounting to 65% ownership in the company. Now with more conservative money backing them, the future of the GoDaddy Girls is in question.
In June, GoDaddy announced it had hired Deutsch Inc. of New York to take over its advertising campaigns. This will surely mean for GoDaddy a “toning down” of the sexiness of their ads. Although for now, according to Elizabeth Driscoll, V.P. of Public Relations, “the new campaign doesn’t necessarily mean the days of provocative commercials are over, only that the messaging of the ads will change.” I wouldn’t bet on it.
In a recent interview, Danica Patrick, most notable of the GDGs, said, “As the company grows, you tend to find yourself accommodating to the masses more as opposed to trying to be polarizing,” Patrick, who recently turned 30, said. “They(GoDaddy) achieved that size that they just need to have that solid, mainstream presence, and that trustworthiness and credibility and things that come along with taking a slightly more safer route. I’m ready for it.”
What the…? I think she just said that GoDaddy is watering down their message to appeal to a broader audience. I don’t know what the other hot, smart, successful-in-a-man’s-sport GoDaddy girl Vanessa Rousso thinks, but my hunch is that when you take the “sexy” away from these sexy girls, combined with the fact that recent data shows that western women, not men, are now the biggest users of the Internet, the days of the GoDaddy girls are numbered.
As long as Danica Patrick is recognized by almost 70% of the general public, you can’t say she’s a bad choice to promote a product. But when you water down what’s made these girls so popular—sexy and successful in sports traditionally dominated by men—you will probably see their advertising draw diminish.
Say goodbye to the GoDaddy Girls.