Say Goodbye To GoDaddy Girls And Hello To ‘Ass-Kicking’ Small Businesses

By: Chris Crum - September 8, 2013

If you haven’t seen it yet, GoDaddy has a new ad out, and it stars Jean-Claude Van Damme. Yes, that Jean-Claude Van Damme. Why are we telling you about this? Well, it’s not just a commercial. It’s significant because it’s the first step in a big shift in branding strategy from the company that has generated a great deal of controversy over the years, including from its ads themselves. Earlier this year, they were dubbed “tasteless” by Forbes.

GoDaddy is the top domain registrar in the world by far, according to ICANN, so the company obviously has a direct link with a whole lot of businesses. Abandoning the scantily clad women strategy, GoDaddy is turning things around and focusing on businesses. Small businesses.

What do you think of GoDaddy’s ads? Do you prefer the old strategy or the new one? Like both strategies? Neither? Let us know in the comments.

Here’s a look at the top ICANN registrars worldwide (via

Top ICANN Registrars

How much of that do you think is a result of the company’s marketing efforts? How often do you see television commercials for any of these other registrars? GoDaddy, regardless of what you think of its past commercials, has clearly been quite effective in its marketing endeavors. If nothing else, the Super Bowl ad spots always got people talking (even if perhaps more so in earlier years).

Well, GoDaddy wants to keep people talking about its ads, even if it’s trying a different strategy. Here’s the latest spot in case you haven’t seen it (it ran multiple times during Thursday night’s NFL season opener).

While it does feature an abundance of Van Damme spreading his legs in classic Van Damme fashion, there is a clear business focus here. The commercial is about a baker, and it ends on the message: “More Business. More Ready. It’s go time.”

The company tells us this is the beginning of a major launch in new brand strategy targeting small businesses.

The “It’s go time” line Van Damme says at the end of the ad is a new company-wide “messaging transformation,” GoDaddy says.

Van Damme

“This is the radical shift we knew we had to make and it’s more than just marketing,” said GoDaddy CEO Blake Irving. “A brand is a promise to our customers and a commitment to understand their needs. Our mission is to ‘fight the good fight for the go getter’ … the small business owner … or anyone who labors for the love of it and wants the benefits of the latest technology without having to be an expert.”

Irving took over as CEO of GoDaddy in January, and according to the company, there has been “an intense focus on products and personnel” since he did. The company has acquired talent and executives from Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, eBay and Intuit. It also recently acquired and Locu, both for its website creation tool efforts.

Along with the new marketing strategy, GoDaddy has unveiled a new site design and interface with a streamlined checkout process, and has re-built its Website Builder product. They’ve also put out this video of people talking about the tool:

Notice that none of the women are taking their clothes off.

On the shift in advertising approach, GoDaddy says Van Damme represents the “ass-kicker inside every small business owner,” and the ad is one of two that people will see on TV (it will debut during the NFL season-opener on NBC tonight).

“This is definitely different for us, but you’ll see we still have a sense of humor,” said GoDaddy Chief Marketing Officer Barb Rechterman. “We think Jean-Claude is hilarious. ‘The muscles from Brussels’ certainly helps make the commercial memorable, but the story also illustrates the struggles and time constraints many small business owners face every day. Our job is ‘to be there’ for these small business owners who want to attract more customers with beautiful websites that are easy to create and affordable to maintain.”

GoDaddy has also released a “Manifesto of Kick Ass” for small businesses:

Again, nobody taking their clothes off.

The company says the new strategy comes after “months of intensive research, customer segmentation, customer surveys and employee input.”

Will it pay off? Is the right direction for GoDaddy’s brand strategy? Let us know what you think.

Chris Crum

About the Author

Chris CrumChris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow Chris on Twitter, on StumbleUpon, on Pinterest and/or on Google: +Chris Crum.

View all posts by Chris Crum
  • Laurie Greene

    Good Post. Can’t help but wonder if the change results in less business,
    will there be a return to someone “taking their clothes off.”

  • Joseph Staw

    I like Laurie’s comment. I don’t care about commercials(usually a waste of money) as long as price and service are competitive.

  • Gotzu

    This is realy a nice post but would like to know how it will be helpful to small enterpreneurs.

    Gotzu Tech

  • Events

    Van Damme looks older now, more older i guess

  • ron

    It’s about time.
    I never could understand the relationship of the females
    with the type of business they had.

  • Allan

    Sex Sells! That’s why Go Daddy is #1

    • Chris

      It’s always risky to change something that’s obviously working – I mean, look at the number of domains they’ve registered. What they have now is obviously appealing to their present customers. Will the new direction appeal to their present customers? Will it cause them to lose present customers? Will the new direction bring new customers? How will the number of lost customers stack up against the number of new customers? All of these are unknowns. Why go for the unknown if what one has still works?

  • Toto

    Vandame looks like an abused 70 year old wife. I think he plastic surgeried his eyes too. That clown needs to go away.

    Yes sex sells. I don’t think they are changing a marketing strategy. I think they are also branching out to get the business owners because the majority of them are web ignorant and wouldn’t think twice to spend on Godaddy upsells.

  • Stephanie Cook

    I never thought it was the best strategy to alienate half the market. The numbers have obviously told the marketers at GoDaddy that something is amiss or they wouldn’t have changed their strategy.

  • Sheldon Mohl

    I agree with Ron’s comment. Using sexy women to promote business products that they are not involved with makes no sense. This current video with the baker is more focused and relevant to GoDaddys’ service

  • Dan Mitroi

    Well I really think that this approach will make Godaddy to keep their performance in the market.

  • http://Godaddymarketing Will

    Love the new ad! Godaddy is the biggest and best not because of their marketing strategies but simply because of their prices and quality 24/7 customer service. I was never a fan of their trashy ads but their services were hands down the best bang for your buck. The new marketing is just the icing on the cake, but this time it has taste. Im not sure what type of business they were trying to attract previously with their ads but it was definitely towards a limited audience, it still kind of is. With a company like Godaddy, the price is what sells.

    • Duh

      “but their services were hands down the best bang for your buck”
      I have a friend who knew a lady in Nevada who he said the same thing about. ;P

  • Rickey

    I signed with them before the Girls, but they surly helped keep me with them after we started to grow. I think for them to worry about what Forbes says is just silly. When you become number one it’s for a combination of reasons; one is surly the Girls. To Godaddy I say this, “Don’t take something awfully simple, and turn it into something simply Awful!”

  • Conran

    Completely forget that their CEO is an Elephant-murdering f**k head who acts like so many other ignorant American millionaires and rampages around the world like it’s his own personal playground.

    I have never used GoDaddy and never will, they are the Abercrombie and Fitch of internet business. Unethical, immoral, degrading and run by sycophantic sociopaths.

  • Brian

    Looking at how far ahead they are in the market, GoDaddy were definitely getting something right. But the old adage ‘stand still at your peril’ rings true as well. There are a lot of small businesses not on the Internet so going after that market has to make sense.

  • j

    Loved the headline for this story.

    Godaddy may make nice ads that say stuff but the real life fact differs – heres an example, let a domain name go and i bet that you get prompted to renew. And lets face it unless your willing to get into bed with hollywood and the like your not going to be a zupperburg or ripping off math in a tax payer funded uni for your own profit.

    I agree with the first posters comments – but given its him or some army pretending to be commercial just to tap telephones then its an easy choice; And for saying that a sorry to the elephant lovers.

    • David S

      What on earth are you saying?

  • Nina macciocco

    The most rediculous commercial I have evere seen. Who cares about a washed up actor, he must be or you really must be desperate.

  • Me

    Anyone who knows anything about advertising knows that sex sells. Even women are drawn to a beautiful scantily clad woman in an ad. Unfortunately, we respond to our creature instincts, whether we realize it or not.
    I am personally very impressed with GoDaddy’s customer service. The only problem I ever experienced was their user interface. The pages were too busy, and confusing to navigate. But, they are proud to say that they have been improving that, and I am very impressed. Customer service really does matter. I had to leave other registrars on the list simply because I could not communicate with their customer service. Even felt threatened by one company.
    I don’t understand why more larger companies in every sector don’t really understand the importance of customer service.
    I often wonder how these companies pay their reps, and I wonder how much this has to do with their service.

    • BibleRick

      I agree With “Me” GoDaddy Is Awesome…!!!

  • Jost

    I fired them and took all my business elsewhere after their misogynistic owner at last blew my patience murdering elephants.
    The guy is beneath contempt – I do not give my business to anyone who acts and thinks the way he does.

  • Sharon Jackson

    Thrilled to see them gone. Tiresome. Boring. As a woman they had zero appeal to me, said nothing, contributed nothing.

    GoDaddy is #1 not just because of sex but because of their exceptional customer service.

    Claude Van Damme is an interesting choice despite the fact that he may have had one too many facelifts and may be the equivalent to men what the pretty, useless girls were to the women.

  • Greg

    For the rest of us who look at issues like the bully tactics of US Congress and the Internet (hmmm the ceo of godaddy made some comment there ……) —- any US domain provider puts your business at risk and it is getting very complex trying to protect data according to country privacy laws – which of course the USA tries to ignore and sends in the lawyers all the time (by the way this is not hearsay but fact with the projects I have worked on). Personally I am more interested in seeing the registration removed from the US versus which domain company to use for each company has to evaluate its own need and in many cases protect themselves according to country law.

    As technology changes and SaaS firms take better control of their product/service lines you will probably see an erosion of these types of companies who offer very little other than web sites and so many more are much better – just not as mature in the marketing side of things.

    More exciting things are coming….. and yes the comment about too many face lifts seems apt — thought he looked a little Joker like. Though I think it harsh to call him washed up – bet the person who said that could not last 2 sec’s with him or even do the splits.

  • Lascelles Clarke

    Godaddy has simply been employing marketing strategies – just like any savvy marketer. Stirring up (or being at the center of) controversy is one such. If that is what gets them noticed, then they will do it to accomplish the mission.
    By the way, anyone notice Jean-Claude’s Damme plastic smile on his face in that ad?

  • James Cousineau

    The girlie ads were sexist and I found them shocking for a company like GoDaddy to be using. First time I saw one I thought it was a joke or spoof by somebody making fun of GoDaddy. Continued use was enough to make me go elsewhere and transferred all my domains out of GoDaddy.

  • Tommy Brown

    I would not spend another dime with Godaddy and at one time I had over 600 domains with them.

    • BibleRick

      Why? Tommy Brown ???

  • Kevin

    Well at least it makes people talk about the brand but it sure does alienate any one who does not like killing elephants.

    From my experience this kind of arrogance bites you in the ass.

  • Josh Trenser

    I really loved Godaddy girls IMHO :)) Shame they are gone.

  • webbetle

    I don’t care either way! There have been too many other scandals at GoDaddy, concerning domain security and hijacking of domains, over the years. I have long moved all my domains to another registrar.

  • michael kilroy

    I have responded to Bob Parsons tasteless depiction of women by telling him a number of years ago that his brains were in his trousers. He did not respond to me so I decided to look for another supplier and I am managing my portfolio down with Godaddy for some time now.
    That is my comment on the change.He may be a very successful man but he is sexist and arrogant and lacks any sense of decorum.
    He is base and does not understand that each and every human being is Gods gift to the world to be treasured and honoured as they are Jesus in disguise God Bless them ,Michael

  • Victoria

    Have’nt used their hosting before and am not going to use it after. i just think that after all recent scandals they understood thet it would be hard to get professional developers and webmasters to use their service. SO they just focused on small business owners, who, (we should not lie here) mostly don’t know much about websites, development, etc – they can be easily persuaded that Godaddy is the best provider, since they offer “easy-to-use” website builder (no professiona would use it ever…

  • Suzan Shipp

    I was turned off by godaddy’s tasteless advertsing and promotions years ago and if they were the best deal out there I would not give them one red cent. I have no respect for them or their policies.

  • Domainer Steve

    If not for their domain name coupons, I probably wouldn’t be using them. I have always disliked their user interface and sales popups.

  • Roberta Guise

    Despite their sexist and sexualized ads, I believe the company got market share and is successful because of word of mouth marketing, product offering, and ease of use. I doubt their ads brought in much new business.

    Think of another site that’s as easy to check on and purchase a domain name. Their customer service is good enough (except when you challenge the usually male service rep about the sexists ads, and you’d hear, “My girlfriend thinks they’re funny.”)

  • Just_Me

    If you have been to Go Daddy’s website lately you’ll see that Website Tonight and all those goody’s that went with it are gone because there is a new bunch of geeks in town and what they have put up and call a the new Website Tonight really, really sucks. What they did was burn down the house just to update the garage. I still have domains with them but that’s all.

  • webdomainguide

    They changed alot.even the currency am seeing here is pounds[£]

  • Gotzu Tech

    Guys, Being Godaddy partner here is the best offer 100GB of disk space in just $1,49/month onwards. Free domain with annual hosting plan. You can buy website builder tool to design your own website in just 1 hour from more than 10,000 pre designed templates. Check out

  • Francois

    Bob Parsons is not a well man, and he’s no longer in the driving seat at GoDaddy. The new owners are astute businessmen who are focused only on the well being and growth of small business. Gone are the ads focused on attractive women, Van Damme is great, and the “it’s go time” says it all! I’m expecting GoDaddy to get the attention of small business in a big way going forward, and those whiners who didn’t like Bob Parsons for killing the elephant, nor the ‘sexy’ girl ads, to come flocking back!

  • Bernardo

    About time, GoDaddy. For a domain name and web service business, the previous ads were simply poor taste. Actually, they were in poor taste, period.