By: Jenna Finer
GoDaddy.com’s 2013 SuperBowl commercial was an epic social media fail. The domain registrar website filmed fashion model Bar Refaeli kissing ‘Walter,’ an anonymous nerd who portrays an employee of the company. For those of you who forget this cringe-worthy commercial, the full video can be watched here if interested. However, you’ve been warned.
Known as “The Kiss,” the controversial advertisement was a part of GoDaddy’s “Smart Meets Sexy” campaign. Unfortunately the video was neither smart nor sexy; everyone hated it. Especially women. Lets break down why “The Kiss” was a social fail that went down in SuperBowl history, and down in GoDaddy’s success.
1. The intention was wrong. Adweek’s article writes from the perspective of sexism, detailing how the male actor kissing Refaeli felt like, “a champion of men.” Was the advertisement a play on ‘Beauty and The Beast,’ or an attempt to objectify a supermodel who made an otherwise undesirable mans life?
2. GoDaddy.com is a virtual contradiction. Two years before “The Kiss” aired, GoDaddy.com made a statement in 2011 declaring that they were shifting away from controversy for publicity. You can read more about this here. Clearly, that didn’t happen. It is no surprise that the negative backlash influenced another decision in October 2013, as the website stated they would steer away from similar advertising for the 2014 SuperBowl. Adweek called that advertisement “the first since their post-sleaze era.” What an uplifting comment to boost GoDaddy’s reputation!
3. Financial loss. Sex may sell, but stereotypes do not. GoDaddy.com won at showing girls across the U.S. that they can only be sexy and not smart — only men are allowed to use their brains, apparently — but failed to actually benefit their own website. Although online shares, likes and favorites reached an all time high, the website ultimately lost $6.5 million dollars because of the advertisement. As this article explains, “pushing the limits no longer works.” GoDaddy.com must have forgotten that viewers are smart, and can recognize indecency and sexism when they see it.
45 takes, (hopefully) multiple breathe mints and two produced versions later, the commercial also failed to respect that the SuperBowl is a family-oriented event. CBS had to heavily censor the clip, and many television stations wouldn’t air it at all. CBS’s opinion on the matter is further discussed here.
As a woman, I agree with society’s reasons for disliking “The Kiss.” I think it is sexist, gross and inappropriate for this specific television event. However as a consumer there are things I’d change in GoDaddy.com’s favor. Unless a brand is retail, food or lifestyle based, it is hard for viewers who are unfamiliar with the brand to immediately pick up on what it’s about. GoDaddy.com is a website, so it’s abilities are even more vague. I need to hear more than lips touching to understand what GoDaddy.com can actually do for me as an online resource.
GoDaddy.com’s multi-million dollar loss concludes two major things. One, that the advertising industry is majorly overcharging for SuperBowl placements. The other is that women cannot and should not be used as a source of triumph. I’d tell them to stick to what they know, which is HTML coding and websites, and steer clear of women.
“Bar Refaeli Swaps Spit With Jesse Heiman in Go Daddy Super Bowl Ad.” AdWeek. 1 Feb. 2013. Web. 13 Feb. 2015. <http://www.adweek.com/news/advertising-branding/bar-refaeli-swaps-spit-jesse-heiman-go-daddy-super-bowl-ad-146935>
“Boycott Watch – One Week Later, GoDaddy Ad Fail Is Bigger than Ever.” Boycott Watch – One Week Later, GoDaddy Ad Fail Is Bigger than Ever. 12 Feb. 2013. Web. 13 Feb. 2015. <http://www.boycottwatch.com/misc/GoDaddy3.htm>
Eby, Margaret. “CBS Censors Bar Refaeli GoDaddy Commercial.” NY Daily News. 1 Feb. 2013. Web. 13 Feb. 2015. <http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/tv-movies/bar-refaeli-kisses-geek-love-super-bowl-ad-article-1.1253364>
“GoDaddy Unveils the First Super Bowl Ad of Its Post-Sleaze Era.” AdWeek. 22 Jan. 2014. Web. 13 Feb. 2015. <http://www.adweek.com/news/advertising-branding/danica-patrick-gets-pumped-spray-tan-go-daddys-new-super-bowl-ad-155124>
Steinberg, Brian. “GoDaddy Taking a Less Bumpy Road to Super Bowl Ads.” Advertising Age Special Report Super Bowl RSS. 8 Dec. 2011. Web. 13 Feb. 2015. <http://adage.com/article/special-report-super-bowl/godaddy-taking-a-bumpy-road-super-bowl-ads/231439/>