GoDaddy.com won few critical waves with its titillating Super Bowl ad, but it clearly emerged Monday as the game’s most controversial spot, especially after Fox Broadcasting acknowledged killing it in the middle of the game.
The privately owned company, which had no previous experience in television advertising, paid nearly $5 million for the right to air two spots promoting its Internet services in Sunday’s championship game.
Even before the game, the ad was heavily publicized because it was the only spot that dared to poke fun at last year’s halftime “wardrobe malfunction,” which sparked a federal crackdown on broadcast indecency.
The GoDaddy commercial featured a bosomy model having trouble with her blouse as she testifies before a panel holding “broadcast censorship hearings.” The spot aired as scheduled in the first quarter of the showdown between the New England Patriots and the Philadelphia Eagles, but a repeat appearance scheduled for the fourth quarter never was shown.
GoDaddy President and owner Bob Parsons said was watching the game with co-workers at the company offices when he realized the spot was killed. The ad was supposed to air during a commercial break for the game's two-minute warning, but Fox ran an ad for "The Simpsons" in its place.
"Fox did not give us the courtesy of a phone call at all," he said. When he was able to track down a Fox executive, he was told that National Football League executives asked that the spot be eliminated.
Parsons said he was extremely disappointed, because the closeness of the game ensured that a large audience was still watching the game and would have seen the scheduled repeat of the ad, which was intended to drive traffic to the company's Web site.
"We believe we certainly have had damages," he said. "We're working with our counsel, trying to decide exactly what our damages are, and hopefully we will be able to resolve it amicably."
Fox confirmed killing the ad but provided no explanation for why it allowed it to air in the first place. Nor would Fox confirm whether the NFL had applied pressure to kill the spot.
"When the GoDaddy.com spot aired in the first half, it became obvious to us that its content was very much out of step with the tenor set by the other ads and programming broadcast by FOX on Super Bowl Sunday, so FOX made the decision to drop its repeat airing,” Fox advertising President Jon Nesvig said in a statement. “We understand GoDaddy's disappointment with our decision, but ultimately we are responsible for what our network broadcasts."
The crude humor of the GoDaddy ad did not go over well with many viewers. The ad finished 28th out of 55 ranked in USA Today’s annual Super Bowl Ad Meter. A survey of bloggers found the ad was “polarizing,” according to AdAge.com.
But Parsons, who noted that 75 percent of his company's customers are male, said a company survey of visitors to its Web site found very few viewers were offended by the ad. Even among women who responded to the survey, 86 percent said they did not find it offensive, he said.
Among advertising industry insiders at one Super Bowl party, the spot was considered “an over-the-top hit,” according to AdAge, which follows the industry.
After all, the ad did ensure that millions of people are still talking about a company that few even knew existed a few days ago.