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

    September 8, 2013
    Chris Crum

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.