A couple of years back, Barack Obama gave a speech. In it, he mentioned that we (America) must ‘brave new directions.’ I immediately checked whether ‘bravenewdirections.com’ was available. It was. I thought it had massive potential for a campaign – whether political or commercial. A command like that doesn’t fall out of the tree every day. Only, my hosting company was migrating servers as the result of an acquisition and my account was temporarily locked. Fearing I might lose the domain, I reluctantly went to GoDaddy. As a father to daughters, I always loathed GoDaddy’s sensationalistic ad campaigns featuring the exploitation of women. Sure, the women were probably paid handsomely, but just because a woman in a tight shirt can convince the Neanderthals of North America to do business with them doesn’t make it right. Advertising like this is more than the exploitation of women, it’s exploitation of the weakness of stupid men. Anyway, I procured both bravenewdirections.com and bravenewdirection.com with GoDaddy.
Then earlier this year, after previewing another ridiculously bad GoDaddy Super Bowl commercial, I decided that I’d had enough. It didn’t matter to me that my two domains represented less than $20 a year to the company, nor did I care that I had to run the GoDaddy gauntlet of upsell in my attempt to close my account – I wanted the domains moved. Doing any business with GoDaddy was like endorsing their existence. When I was finally able to close my account, I felt like I did my little part to make the world a better place.
Until this week, I haven’t thought about GoDaddy again. But then news surfaced of GoDaddy CEO Bob Parsons bagging an elephant. Now I’m not going to get into the argument as to whether it was just or moral of him to kill the elephant, but the fact that he did it with a film crew present sickens me. What did he think we’d think? Of course he knew we’d be outraged. But then, if you take a look at his Twitter stream, it’s obvious that he is in business for one reason – money (note the banned Serena Williams soft porn commercial he thinks will do well on cable). I don’t know anything about Parsons other than this. He may be a sweetheart of a guy who donates his salary to battered women for all I know. But I doubt it. He comes across as a person who thrives in shocking people into submission through sensationalism.
I’ve helped create and steer brand messaging for more than a decade. And the one thing I’ve always believed about crafting communications for any brand is that the truth always works best. When you try to paint a pig purple and sell it as a porsche – it will always fail. If your’e a pig, you’re a pig. Just be the best pig possible. The most authentic brands are true to their core beliefs. And those beliefs start with the people who run the company. Everything you need to know about a brand flows out from these core truths. In the case of Parsons murdering the elephant for glory, combined with years of GoDaddy sensationalistic marketing, and you can clearly see the core beliefs of the company. Shock and awe.
No doubt there are people here who will cite how this was a huge branding black eye for GoDaddy, and then they’ll provide a range of ways that GoDaddy can overcome this mistake as they validate their status as branding a expert. But I don’t think this was a mistake at all. It’s a true representation of the core beliefs of the brand. Shock people. Make them gasp. Then hit them hard with upsell.
If you’re still using GoDaddy after this week, shame on you. And please, don’t complain about this country being fucked up when you’re helping contribute to it.