Given that we’re a week out from the Super Bowl (even though my Niners didn’t quite make it there), I can’t help but start to dream of what wonders lie ahead of us. With the whole nation watching, the highly coveted Super Bowl ad spots are really a chance for companies to shine. I have countless friends who only watch the Super Bowl for the commercials. With all that pressure, it can also be a moment where companies stumble.
Although some commercials go the serious route, such as Dodge’s phenomenal “Farmer” ad last year, most take their 15 seconds and try to be the funniest commercial of the entire game – the one you’ll quote on Monday with your friends. As a serious sports fan, I’ll admit that we definitely need this humor to get the tension created by the game. Okay, it’s often needed to make me laugh when I can’t stand either of the two teams playing. I’ll laugh at the good ones and forget the bad ones, but sometimes an ad can go a little too far.
Internet domain name vendor (I guess that’s what we’ll call them) Go Daddy, known for it’s racy commercials starring racecar driver Danica Patrick, pushed the boundaries with it’s Super Bowl commercial last year featuring a close up kissing scene between model Bar Rafaeli and Walter, some nerdy kid with glasses and overgrown curly hair. Although I personally thought it was hysterical (which made me concerned at my comfort level with PDA), many were repulsed, with the Wall Street Journal even calling the ad an “epic fail.”
By simply asking why this didn’t work, I’d be doing critical thinking an injustice. It wasn’t just that it was a makeout session in full zoom. Obviously, many people at Go Daddy had to have believed it would be a good idea otherwise they wouldn’t have spent the enormous amount of money it takes to buy a Super Bowl ad. Maybe they didn’t want it to “work.” Maybe the point was to have the audience feel so passionately about the content of the commercial, that they would be forced to remember Go Daddy’s name. After all, in order to get their name known in the first place, they followed one of the cardinal rules of advertising: sex sells.
Maybe we don’t all know exactly what Go Daddy does, but I think it’s fair to say that the average citizen knows it has something to do with the Internet. And that’s fine, because most of us aren’t out there buying domain names. Maybe for Go Daddy, they’re okay with not everyone finding the Bar and Walter spot funny. I guess I’m in that minority here. Since humor is different to everyone, in this case, Go Daddy chose to overdo it so much that you would HAVE to notice.
As one of the more memorable ads that year, it’s interesting that it wasn’t the funniest (per average opinion, though I sure thought it was a riot) that resonated. In fact, it was the ad that purposely overstepped humor’s boundaries in order to make a lasting impression. We shouldn’t be too surprised it was Go Daddy, after all. Their ads have been pushing the boundaries every year, and that’s their brand. That’s their angle.