Now be honest with me... DId you click on this post because of this picture?

Now be honest with me… DId you click on this post because of this picture?

When Bob Parsons was still CEO of GoDaddy, he wrote a blog post about why he ran the controversial Super Bowl ads he did…

And the lesson of it stuck with me.

At the time, GoDaddy was definitely peaking in terms of controversy.  Every year, their ads grew even more risqué.  Beautiful women in titillating outfits, talking dirty about…  Domain names?

They followed a formula.

They started with sex — no ifs, ands, or buts.

Whatever woman it was started in an already revealing and “intimate” scene, and and it only got more intimate as the commercial continued.

Then, a variation on the “see what happens next…” would come on, just as the commercial appeared to be getting too hot for TV.

You’d have to go to GoDaddy.com for the exciting conclusion…  Where you were greeted with the second half of the video.

When you did (and many, many people did!), you quickly discovered that the conclusion wasn’t any hotter than what you’d already seen.

In fact, suddenly this sexy woman…  Was selling you on registering a domain name and building a website with GoDaddy.com!

Disappointed?  Probably, if you went strictly for the sex.  But who really thought that would be where the payoff was?  And besides, there are a lot of other domain names you could type in that would be more fruitful on that search.

And yet, GoDaddy got your attention.  They overcame the first and hardest hurdle to any successful advertising — getting you to focus on them, long enough to hear their message.  You went, and you got a pitch for their domain name and web hosting services.

Not only that, they were applying the same strategy book Donald Trump is using in his presidential campaign today (and that I’ve written previously was Eminem’s big secret to success)…

Controversy!

By running the ads they did, GoDaddy’s Super Bowl ad spend went much further than most advertisers.

They owned the media leading up to the Super Bowl…  “What will GoDaddy do this year?!”

They owned the media following the Super Bowl… “Can you believe what GoDaddy did this year?!”

And they owned the water cooler conversation in office, after office, after office…

Not only that, people actually logged on and watched their videos more than once!  And they showed them to others!

GoDaddy got probably 3X the airplay in the name of controversy than they got with their actual ad dollars.

Importantly…  It worked!

Here’s what Bob Parsons wrote about those ads, in that blog post I read so many years ago…

With all the controversy surrounding those ads, he was doing them for one reason.  They worked.

Every time GoDaddy would run one of those ads, their sales would spike.  And because they sell a subscription product, that’s more like a plateau.  Year after year, their sales would jump around Super Bowl Sunday.  If I remember right, 15 to 25%, more in the earliest years.

Parsons said he would stop running them when they stopped creating those sales increases.

Well, Parsons has since stepped down from his leadership role at GoDaddy.  Though he’s still on the board and holds about 28% of outstanding shares, he’s not involved with their Super Bowl ad campaigns.

And so, from what I can tell, GoDaddy isn’t even running a Super Bowl ad this year.

And that’s probably good, because…

It takes a special kind of ad to make Super Bowl advertising profitable…

Like most of what comes out of mainstream, Madison Avenue-type ad agencies (even in our digital era), most Super Bowl advertising is trash.

And I’m not talking raunchy trash, like a lot of folks think of the GoDaddy ads.

Rather, I’m talking “you might as well throw your money in the trash because your dumb ad isn’t going to actually work to drive business results.”

You see, like or loathe the “sex sells” tactics, Parsons understood one thing.

For advertising to work, you have to get people’s attention, present your offer, and get them to take action.

Most mainstream ads — especially on Super Bowl Sunday — really just focus on getting attention.  Mostly, attention for the ad agency who made the ads — so they can win a big awards, and collect their 15% cut of the multi-million dollar media buy.

Given the task of actually creating business results, most advertisers would be thrown over the coals for running the ads that we’ll see this Sunday.

It’s even become a joke that’s made its way into the ads!

In a moment, I’m going to give you a YouTube link to the Adobe Marketing Cloud video that’s going to run during the big game.

It does a perfect job of dramatizing the kind of stupid bets that advertisers are making on 30- and 60-second spots.

And yet, it also fails on something you’d think they should get right.

Click here to watch the Adobe Super Bowl ad on YouTube.

So…

Did you catch it?

What did they do wrong?

No clear call to action?  No clear next step to take to learn more, if you’re a qualified prospect?  In fact, not even a URL to go to.

Again, you’d think they know better.

And maybe, because Adobe is so big, this will still pay off for them.  There gets to be a point where your brand is already so big that branding ads do work.

But for a platform that’s designed to track the performance of your ads and marketing campaigns, you’d think someone would raise their hand and say, “Shouldn’t we be tracking responses to this?”

Once upon a time, I was deluded into thinking that Super Bowl ads were the pinnacle of advertising…

Until we discover direct response, I believe most of us believe this myth.

And some ads will likely pay off.

But I’ve got a good hunch that most Super Bowl advertisers are going to be feeling a lot like that gambler by the time Monday rolls around.

$4 million sunk on a bad bet, with nothing to show for it in terms of real, measurable results.

Thankfully, you and me, we know better!

Have a good and safe weekend.

Yours for bigger breakthroughs,

Roy Furr

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