Mary Beth Spang
16 February 2012
Essay 2: Rhetorical Situation
Go Daddy Rhetorical Ad Analysis
When the name "Go Daddy" is mentioned, most people probably do not begin to think about domain names, owning a website, or great deals. Most people probably think of what Go Daddy.com's creator Bob Parsons calls his "edgy" Go Daddy Girl commercials. Those commercials use sexual content within their advertisements, straying very close to certain boundaries, while still remaining legally appropriate by the standards set by the Federal Communications Commission. The commercials are also incredibly successful for Go Daddy's business. Rather than clearly marketing their product, the Go Daddy advertisers are more interested in promoting explicitly sexual content to entice viewers to visit their website. They are able to do this through the use of rhetorical devices such as character choice, audience and style.
Using several different methods, Go Daddy advertisers make their advertisements sexually "appealing" and suggestive. First, Go Daddy uses objectification of characters. Go Daddy carefully chooses women who men consider to be very attractive to be their Go Daddy girls. The most recent choices include Danica Patrick, the highest placed female finisher ever in the Indy 500, and the first woman to ever lead in the race, and Jillian Michaels, an ultra successful physical trainer and businesswoman. The other women that Go Daddy uses in their ads are always tall and curvy, wearing tight, revealing and suggestive clothing. However, in their most recent ad, "Body Paint," the girl is wearing no clothing. Additionally, the camera often focuses on the revealed body part or parts. For example, as the aforementioned "Body Paint" commercial concludes, the camera scans up the model's body, avoiding only her most private body parts and her head. This suggests that the body, rather than the brain, is the most important aspect of a female.
Next, the advertisers make stylistic choices in order to emphasize their seductive characters. Everything in the background of this commercial is blurred, so that the female characters, Danica, Jillian, and the "hot model in body paint" are what really stand out. The model does not speak at all throughout the entire commercial, amplifying her image as simply a physical object to men. Also, the model literally stands on a pedestal throughout the entire ad, implanting the idea in some male viewers' heads that she is like a trophy, an object that can be won by using Go Daddy's business.
The style of the commercial further enhances its sexual appeal. The commercial's dialogue is filled with sexual references, puns and metaphors. This is in an attempt to parallel the attractive women in the commercial with how Go Daddy's business can help customers create an equally attractive web page for their own desired customers. The writing on the model's body contains things such as "Get noticed," "Go Daddy.com," or "HOT.co." This language not only largely advertises the name of the business itself, but also refers to the sexual nature of the ad. Also, Danica and Jillian make comments that additionally reference the sexual content of what is happening within the commercial, saying things like, "They definitely get you noticed!" and emphasizing the word "HOT" each time they say it. This stylistic delivery strengthens the words' meanings, thereby making them more effective to the desired audience.
The "Body Paint" ad to which I have been referring actually contains more dialogue about what Go Daddy's business is than most other Go Daddy commercials. Within the past year, Go Daddy has been attempting to correct the prevalent assumption that they are a pornographic website. If one searches "What is Go Daddy.com-porn?" on Yahoo answers, the responses that appear will be to previous questions asked such as, "Is Go Daddy.com a porn site?" "What the hell is Go Daddy.com?" and "What is Go Daddy? Some porn site?" If Googled, there are over five pages filled with similar previously asked questions. In 2010, in response to a contest to design a Go Daddy commercial that would "compel a viewer to visit their website to watch another minute or so of the video," Colin Winter created an ad that directly mocked this common conjecture. Go Daddy was not pleased, and the ad did not win. The ad was a huge hit on YouTube, however, and generated a lot of comments about how realistic the commercial's teasing actually was. As a result, Go Daddy has launched a new series of ads, including "Body Paint," that manage to incorporate both sexual enticement and more direct advertising for their business.
In addition to using language to emit a particular style, Go Daddy also uses music. The Go Daddy theme song is used to escalate sexual suspense in the ad. The song can be compared to music that one might hear in a club, or even a strip club. As the ad progresses, the music's volume increases, correlating with the increasingly exposed body parts being shown. Creating a moment of suspense, the song reaches its highest volume just as the model is suddenly taken off the screen and replaced by the words, "See more now at Go Daddy.com."
As a result of the sexual content within their ads, Go Daddy successfully targets an expansive audience and generates increasing business for themselves. Go Daddy covers all three of what USA today's research claims are current business' advertising priorities. The number one priority is getting people online to learn more about their product or business. Go Daddy does this with ease. Their blatant sexual attempts in their most recent ad target the male audience, convincing them to visit Go Daddy.com to "see more." Women, also, may be persuaded to check out the website after watching the commercial. By using Danica Patrick and Jillian Michaels, popular representation of female success in predominantly male careers, Go Daddy may gain respect from some women viewers. Lara Zielin says, "these are some of the few women (and I mean few women) in the public eye today using their talents and skills for something other than fighting, drinking, and sexy-good-times." There may be women who want to learn more about Go Daddy simply because they respect this image of Danica and Jillian.
Posibbly Go Daddy's most effective strategy for getting people online to visit their website, however, is the ambiguity of their ads. Although this is something that the Go Daddy advertisers are attempting to adjust, the indefiniteness of their commercials has actually contributed to their business' success. Because of the ambiguity, viewers of the ads are tempted to visit the website or even simply to Google the "Go Daddy" name in order to satisfy their curiosity. Go Daddy's success in this area can be proven by the following statistics: This year, Go Daddy's Super Bowl commercial generated GoDaddy.com's best mobile website traffic ever. It actually broke their records. Additionally, according to Akamai Technologies, an Internet usage monitoring firm, there was a sharp spike in the use of the internet during the Super Bowl. This, too, was attributed to the "Body Paint" ad from Go Daddy.
After getting people online, USA Today's number two marketing priority for businesses is generating online conversation and responses to their ads to publicize their product or business more. Go Daddy frequently inspires strong, opinionated reactions from viewers. Go Daddy's Super Bowl ad actually had a ten percent negativity rating, the highest of all Super Bowl commercials this year. Despite being negative, this is still publicity. Some negative tweets include: "Dear Go Daddy: I'm a man. I'm straight. I watch football. Your commercials insult me," from Terry Brock. Another reads, "Dear Go Daddy: Your objectification & exploitation of women disgusts me. #Hopeanelephantstompsalloveryourservers," from Eugene Cho. Again, although these are negative, they are still public responses. They may cause people to wonder what these Tweets are referring to and thereby motivate people to research Go Daddy and their commercials.
Finally, USA Today's number three priority for business is for consumers to ultimately buy their product or to use their business. Go Daddy has had very few problems with this goal in recent years. They are now the world's largest domain name registrar and web hosting provider. They are also larger than the next 8 closest registrar competitors combined, having more than 10 million customers.
Clearly, Go Daddy's "edgy" advertising strategy effectively attracts customers. Go Daddy uses blatant sexual suggestions, while simultaneously increasing their already successful business. While I commend the company for their business success, I still cannot condone their methods. Personally, as a woman, I am insulted by the manner in which Go Daddy advertises, and I am forced to wonder, does the end really justify the means?
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Web. 27 Feb. 2012. <http://www.qrcodepress.com/godaddy-super-bowl-qr-code-advertising-brings-record-sales/856506/>.
Horovitz, Bruce. "Super Bowl Ads Get Racier, but Does Sex Really Sell?" Super Bowl Ads Get
Racier, but Does Sex Really Sell? (23 Jan. 2012). USA Today. Gannett, 23 Jan. 2012.
Web. 21 Feb. 2012. <http://www.usatoday.com/money/advertising/story/2012-
"Lara Zielin." ~~~Lara Zielin~~~. Web. 27 Feb. 2012.
"My GoDaddy TV Commercial | Colin Winter." Colin Winter. Web. 27 Feb. 2012.