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GoDaddy Will Return to Super Bowl Advertising

Variety logo Variety 12/15/2016 Brian Steinberg
© Provided by Variety

A slew of regular Super Bowl advertisers has opted to leave the event in recent years. Gone for now (and, perhaps, for later) are former Big Game stalwarts like FedEx and General Motors. In 2017, Toyota and Doritos will not step on the playing field.

One of the departed, however, is ready to make a comeback.

GoDaddy, the web-services provider with the upstart attitude, is making a return to Super Bowl advertising after sitting out Super Bowl 50 this year. The company plans to run a single 30-second commercial in the first half of the game, said Barb Rechterman, GoDaddy’s chief marketing officer, in an interview. “We finalized the deal within the last month or so,” she said. “We are fast and furious on the creative side.”

The Scottsdale, Arizona, company took to the Super Bowl sidelines as it used 2016 to develop a bigger name for itself overseas, Rechterman explained. In 2017, however, it wants to unveil a new product about which she declined to offer specific details. GoDaddy started running ads in the Super Bowl in 2005, and its absence in 2016 was its first in more than a decade.

Viewers will not see most of the elements that helped build GoDaddy’s name. The ads will feature no women clad in skimpy halter tops and professional racer Danica Patrick is no longer affiliated with the company. Rechterman instead vowed to use the Super Bowl to kick off a new campaign that talks about the power of the internet. The ad, crafted by the Bullish agency, will use “iconic images,” she said.

The company’s decision highlights the importance of having a clear goal when deciding to take part in Super Bowl advertising. The pressure is on advertisers in the pigskin classic, owing to the fact that more than 110 million viewers typically tune in and watch the commercials with as much vigor as the do the game. Over the years, many advertisers have focused on having some news to deliver to the crowd, whether it be a new offer or a new product. Marketers that shove an ad in the game without a clear reason for doing so run the risk of not making an impact.

GoDaddy returns to an event that has been featuring new competitors in its field. Wix.com, a Web services company that partnered with Dreamworks in 2016, has said it will run a Super Bowl ad for the third consecutive year. Fox, which will broadcast Super Bowl LI from Houston on February 5, has been seeking more than $5 million for a 30-second spot in the game.

While some of the ribald elements of past GoDaddy efforts will not appear, viewers will see at least one element that might seem familiar. The company’s earliest ads often prodded Super Bowl fans to look for longer, uncensored versions of its Super Bowl efforts online. In 2017, the GoDaddy commercial will make a significant effort to drive TV viewers to its website, Rechterman said. “We pioneered that a decade ago,” she said.

In its most recent Super Bowl appearance, GoDaddy raised eyebrows by pulling its Super Bowl ad just weeks before the game. The company had previewed a spot depicting a clever pup being bounced out of a pick-up truck, then finding its way home over many miles of terrain – only to discover he is being sold because the web-hosting firm helped its owner discover a quick way to sell him as part of a small business she created.

Reaction was decidedly tepid after the ad debuted on NBC’s “Today,” and the company ordered up a buttoned-down commercial that made few waves.

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