Go Daddy's suggestive ads, and their subsequent controversy, have become a Super Bowl tradition. This year's spot, featuring Sports Illustrated swimsuit model Bar Refaeli and nerd-portraying actor Jesse Heiman making out, has been called the most sexist to date.
The fault this year, however, is not Go Daddy's alone. For the first time in their decade of Super Bowl advertising, the hosting company enlisted the help of professionals. The commercial, conceived by creative agency Deutsch New York, was filmed at Universal Studios about a month ago.
Greg DiNoto, chief creative officer at Deutsch New York, which partnered with Go Daddy eight months ago, explained in a phone interview that the agency was operating within an existing message framework.
"Go Daddy always stood for sexy. We said, you need to stand for more, you need to stand for smart," DiNoto said.
Hence the kiss.
DiNoto said the spot worked. "The first most important reaction has been the commercial reaction — Go Daddy had an exceptional day based on traffic and transactions." DiNoto also added that Go Daddy has been in the top three most-talked about commercial spots on social media.
As for the other reaction — that the commercial was sexist — DiNoto said, "We have a brand that's used sex as a currency before. You can't just turn around and leave that in your wake. You have to confront that."
"Frankly, we had no hesitations around taking on the account because we knew it would make for a great case study: Here is a brand with a challenging profile that people some times find difficult based on that image," he continued. "It was an opportunity to take that complexity and challenge, and turn it into a positive."
"We understand that a spot like this will be polarizing and controversial. There are others that find it silly," DiNoto said. "But everyone finds it memorable — and that's important."