MBPT Spotlight: Message To GoDaddy: Beware Of Monday Morning Quarterbacks

We all enjoy industry news—it keeps us current on brands while enjoying what our talented peers and the highly resourceful breed of newcomers are doing from the strategic, creative and management side. However, every day it’s more obvious that advertisers suffer from a chronic “the grass is greener on the other side” syndrome.

Is this the reaction from highly competitive environments or short-term profit expectations in today’s business world?

Regardless, we know this business is about moving the needle, but which performance metrics are more important? We can agree that it’s a sliding scale, and when a hot new trend, a decrease in the rate of return, an unexpected bump in the road or a less-than-desirable key performance indicator result happens, the persistent Monday Morning Quarterback invariably comes knocking at the door.

Recently, while looking through online news, I came across a great example. The headline read:

“GoDaddy Changes Creative Agency, Continues To Work On Revamped Image.” A descriptive graph that followed read: “The Internet services company has hired Barton F. Graf 9000 to replace Deutsch New York, following a review, which the incumbent did not participate in, TheNew York Times reports.”

Known for its risqué ads in the past, a GoDaddy exec explaining the change said, “We are for the entrepreneur. We don’t need to be risqué to do this.”

After some “Googling” I found that this change from risqué (featuring good-looking women in its ads) to the more transactional B2B approach (simply what the company sells) has been GoDaddy’s reason for changing agencies as far back as 2005 when they fired the Ad Store. If nine years and two more agencies hasn’t been enough for their needed evolution, how much time will GoDaddy need? Or perhaps they should continue with the revolution they led to them becoming the world’s No. 1 domain name registrar.

Owning a distinct personality the way GoDaddy has been able to do is very difficult, especially with small budgets. In today’s technology industry, with media resources in the hundreds of millions of dollars, a $30 million annual budget is drowned by the noise. In spite of this limitation, we will agree that GoDaddy is the envy of its competitors in visibility and unaided recall.

Bader Rutter senior strategist Rodger Jones in a July 2 first-person article in Ad Age titled, “How to Make (or Break) a Service Brand,” offered a few suggestions. Here are some excerpts:

• “If you have a service brand, you can’t be focused on the four P’s of yesteryear: product, place, price, promotion. Instead, it’s about your customers, providing solutions they need and convenient access to these solutions.”

• “Successful service brands, moreover, are doing it with a style all their own. They know they don’t have the luxury of defining themselves through product attributes.”

• “Identifying a unique brand personality that resonates with customers will help ensure your offering is unique among the competition.”

These statements bring us back to Go Daddy’s distinct personality. It’s visible, cool and relevant to the client, with the understanding that B2B’s are also B2C’s, right? Has the GoDaddy messaging gotten a little tacky and tired? Of course, but the brand is solid and today’s young and daring entrepreneur is a great target for that type of risqué messaging.

Comments made by Gerry Graf of GoDaddy’s new agency that “It’s easy to change an image” should worry anybody. On the other hand, what we really know is that driving an established brand to become irrelevant is actually what’s easy.

My message to GoDaddy—be wary of the Monday Morning Quarterback that has been pushing for traditional mainstream B2B copy to win over today’s entrepreneur. How plain and lookalike Go Daddy could become!

Ramirez, director of Multicultural Marketing Consulting in Roswell, Ga., previously held executive positions at BBDO and was part of the BBDO Worldwide Research Council.