#thekiss: Totally Genius or Totally Gross?


GoDaddy premiered its new commercial during the 2013 Super Bowl. But, was the commercial, which portrays Bar Rafaeli as the “sexy” side of GoDaddy and Walter as the “smart” side before they passionately kiss for what seems like hours, a public relations success or disaster?

In case anyone missed the commercial or warned not to watch the gross kiss, this is a link to the short version http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EQTyxNTQTtk

GoDaddy has been criticized for the continued stereotyping of females in their commercials and this commercial was no exception. Are they implying that a beautiful woman can only be sexy? Or that to be smart one must be unattractive?


The social media world went wild with reactions to the commercial, one person tweeting “@GoDaddy, continuing the tired stereotype that programmers are geeks, while women are sex objects. Disgusting.” In fact, according to The Hollywood Reporter, only 11 percent of social media users thought of the ad as “positive.”

One person who found the ad positive was GoDaddy CEO Blake Irving. In a statement, Irving said:

“We’re not going to apologize for ‘The Kiss.’ It’s sparking conversations. It was approved by network Standards and Practices and it uses humor to illustrate the point about how powerful a combination ‘sexy’ and ‘smart’ are. Personally, I think it’s hilarious.”

Even though the ad has been bashed by critics — it was listed as one of the top five worst Super Bowl commercials in 2013 by the Huffington Post — it made an impact and people are talking about it.

As a PR practitioner, what do you think of the GoDaddy commercial? Did it go too far to get a reaction from the audience? Is this the direction you would have advised them to go? Are all the bad reactions ultimately good for the company? After all, we all know the saying “Any press is good press.”

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9 Responses to #thekiss: Totally Genius or Totally Gross?

  1. Devon Shaw says:

    I think this ad is a perfect example of “Any press is good press.” I think it is a good move not apologizing for the kiss. When you make a bold decision to air an ad like that, you have to stand by it. The goal of this commercial was to get a reaction out of the audience and it definitely was a smashing success in that respect. Although they may not be positive reactions, GoDaddy is now a topic of conversation around the nation and getting more and more press. Overall, I think this commercial does exactly what it was intended to do — get a reaction and start a conversation about GoDaddy.

  2. Nicole Lavella says:

    As a woman and GoDaddy customer, I found this commercial highly offensive (not to mention repulsive.) Just as you suggested, it bothered me that the ad implied that a woman could only be sexy OR smart. I know I wasn’t the only one either; as soon as the commercial aired, I saw a ton of backlash on my Twitter feed (interestingly from both men and women).

    In fact, a reporter I follow from the Washington, D.C. area tweeted that the commercial convinced him to move his business to a different hosting website. Though I don’t think I’ll do the same, I wonder how many people reacted the same way? It’ll be interesting to see if this has or will affect their revenue.

    Also, I’m completely shocked by the CEO’s “all publicity is good publicity” comment. Just because the commercial sparked conversations doesn’t mean it was successful— that’s PR 101. I don’t understand how/why GoDaddy’s public relations department let that slide.

  3. Hannah Lurie says:

    When I was watching the Super Bowl, everybody in the room gasped and started laughing at this commercial. It appeals to a baser humor, it produces a “ew” and uncomfortable reaction. GoDaddy has become synonymous with shocking commercials, and this one is no different.

    I think that since this is basically what GoDaddy has been doing every year for some time now, it really should not be a shocker. Nor do I think it was among the worst commercials of the day. It did exactly what they wanted, and brought people to talk about and remember their site.

    Although if I were the commercial’s creator, I would have personally eliminated the smacking sound effects along with the mouth close ups. That really was a little much.

  4. Amy Villarreal says:

    “Any press is good press” is the most false statement in the world of false statements. It actually irks me that GoDaddy, after years of backlash about their insensitive and stereotypical commercials, continues to make the same mistake. I would have never suggested they go this way with this commercial. It’s necessary to look at the larger perspective before doing a commercial like this one and before defending it saying, “it’s hilarious.” While some may think so, others probably will not.

    The CEO is not thinking of the long-term effects like the public relations team should be right now. While it has created a huge stir in social media and traditional media, this won’t be the type of chatter that will last or have a positive return. I hope Mr. Irving is more worried than his statements suggest.

  5. Alexa Chrisbacher says:

    I have to agree with the overwhelming negative response–GoDaddy is helping to perpetuate gender-based stereotypes. Furthermore, the “trashy GoDaddy Super Bowl commercial” is a gimmick that is nearly played out. Even Danica Patrick seems to be jumping ship. I think this year was an obvious sign that they are losing momentum on their shock-value branding; they had to do something more than sexy, they had to border on disgusting to keep viewers’ attention.

  6. Jessica Choi says:

    As a PR practitioner, I think the GoDaddy commercial could have been better or taken a different direction. Although the commercial has been widely discussed, the saying “any press is good press” does not apply. If GoDaddy did not have a negative image before, I think it certainly does now. Just because the audience/consumers are talking about GoDaddy, the negative impression the commercial has left does not guarantee people actually going to the website or even using the product, which is one of the main goals of an advertisement.

  7. Montserrat Camacho De Anda says:

    OMG! Super Bowl commercials are just something that always give us an opportunity to express ourselves. I personally think this is SO gross, but when I start looking at it from the PR perspective I think this a commercial that gave a lot of media attention to GoDaddy. Interviews of why they did it have been going on and even though in the minds of many GoDaddy may be a gross company now, I think that the saying “Any press is good press” actually did work for the company. The commercial ends up being a great way to get the attention of the public.

  8. Rachael McBride says:

    It seems that desperate times must have called for desperate measures: clearly GoDaddy was willing to push the envelope in order to generate attention with this ad. It is understandable that there is intense competition for the funniest or most memorable Super Bowl commercial, but as almost 90 percent of the audience’s remarks are neutral or negative, they certainly took a big leap of faith. I agree that it seems they were following the “any press is better than no press” ideology. Perhaps the company is expecting that the shock factor that initially got people talking will eventually wear off, while the brand recognition of GoDaddy will live on in the minds of its consumers.

  9. Chad Koch says:

    This commercial was awesome. GoDaddy has always had provocative commercials. From a PR standpoint, this was a great move because of how many people are talking about it. I think people who liked the commercial vs. the people who didn’t like it are split 50/50. Now everyone is talking about GoDaddy. Mission accomplished!

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