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Super Bowl Ads: GoDaddy Moves From Upstart to Unlikely Stalwart

With its Super Bowl ads featuring scantily-clad women and what has often been viewed lo-fi production, GoDaddy has long been regarded as something of an upstart. In 2015, making that case will become more difficult as the Web-domain registrar marks the start of its second decade advertising in the Big Game.

“We are in the Super Bowl for our 11th consecutive year,” said Barb Rechterman, the Scottsdale, Arizona company’s chief marketing officer.

The company, which has filed to go public, could take even more of a lead role in the 2015 broadcast of the game. Two of the Super Bowl’s most durable sponsors, PepsiCo and Anheuser-Busch InBev, have taken new paths that threaten to tamp down their Super Bowl presence.

While both are expected to advertise, Pepsi has in the last two years put more effort into its sponsorship of the Super Bowl halftime show than it has ads in the first and second halves of the game. And Anheuser is contemplating a future for its Budweiser that would have it aim most of the advertising for the drink at consumers in their 20s, rather than portraying it as a drink for everyone, according to a new report in The Wall Street Journal.

The Super Bowl’s most durable advertisers are known for clever ads that make people laugh, or at the very least pause for a few seconds to watch the TV screen. But they aren’t known for tweaking the rules of the ad contest that takes place each year behind what has become TV’s most-watched event. GoDaddy has moved against the grain.

Before the advent of social media, most advertisers kept their Super Bowl ad concepts secret from the rest of the world. GoDaddy has long offered sneak peeks and previews, hoping to generate more interest from consumers. These days, nearly all of the ads slated to be in the game turn up on YouTube or elsewhere in the weeks leading up to the event. And most treat the Super Bowl as a place for ads that shy away from offense. GoDaddy has not always done so. Indeed, company founder Bob Parsons once described the company’s image as “fun, edgy and a bit inappropriate.”

When it first came on the Super Bowl scene, the company ran an ad featuring a young brunette in a halter top having a “wardrobe malfunction” before a congressional committee. Another one, broadcast in 2009, showed Nascar driver Danica Patrick in a shower with other women.

Unlike most other Super Bowl advertisers, which trot out something new every year, GoDaddy has chosen to stick by Patrick, who will appear in her 14th Super Bowl ad next year. GoDaddy will run just one 30-second ad in the 2015 game, compared with two this year.

The company has shown some signs of growing up. Its ads have become more professional and a little less shocking. Last year, GoDaddy ran an ad showing a woman quitting her job to set up a puppet business she had set up online. Another one showed Patrick racing in a muscle suit against other bodybuilders. The goal in recent years, said Rechterman, has been to demonstrate what GoDaddy can do for small businesses, not necessarily to generate controversy.

In 2015, Partrick will appear in an effort from independent ad agency Barton F Graf 9000, along with a puppy. “We are playing a tad on Super Bowl conventions by putting a puppy in an ad,” Rechterman said. “It’s a genuinely emotional storytelling moment – and then we’ve got a twist at the end that will turn it on its head.” She declined to elaborate further, but said the puppy will not be hurt in the making of the commercial.

Will GoDaddy stick to the rules in 2015, or defy them? Viewers will have to watch social media and NBC’s broadcast of the game to find out.

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