Go Granny: Fighting Back With Social Media, Not Super Bowl Ads

GoGranny video takeTake that, GoDaddy!

With the Super Bowl coming up this weekend in the United States, many people will be glued to their televisions.  Some of us couldn’t care less about the game — no, we’ll be watching this year’s Super Bowl ads.  Because in true American fashion, it’s not just a sports game, it’s a business opportunity.

But what if nearly $3,000,000 for 30 seconds of TV time isn’t in your budget?  And what if your competitor is known for big splashy ads?  That’s the sort of dilemma that small business owners face everyday.

In that case, you fight back with creativity and whatever else you got.

A short while ago around 4:00 pm Eastern time, Network Solutions released its video “Go Granny,” featuring Oscar-winner Cloris Leachman.  The video takes aim at GoDaddy (without actually using the name of the company) and their now-famous Super Bowl ads featuring young women wearing tight T-shirts.

Network Solutions calls its video a “mockumentary.” Cloris Leachman talks about how she “got the whole thing started” and was the first one out there shaking her booty to sell websites —  until she falls asleep in between takes and has to be woken up.  She mocks the black-leather-wearing stereotype of the spokeswoman of Network Solutions’ competitor, saying how you “sweat like a pig inside these things.”  With some humorous delivery Leachman, aged 84, pokes fun at herself in the video, calling herself a “smokin’ hot babe.”   (Who knows, maybe this will be Leachman’s “Betty White” moment.)

Be sure to watch completely to the end, after Lisa Stone, the co-founder of BlogHer, appears. There’s a final funny bit.

The video is being released solely through social media channels, not on TV channels.   I’ve embedded the video below — it’s a little under 4 minutes.

Network solutions will be posting updates this weekend about the “saga” of Go Granny on a special Twitter channel (@Go_Granny), or using the hashtag #GoGranny.

Note:  I am on the Network Solutions Social Media Advisory Panel, giving ideas for how Network Solutions can help small business customers with social media.  So I am delighted to see Network Solutions using social media this way, and “eating its own dog food,” as they say.


Anita Campbell Anita Campbell is the Founder, CEO and Publisher of Small Business Trends and has been following trends in small businesses since 2003. She is the owner of BizSugar, a social media site for small businesses.

15 Reactions
  1. Cloris is funny. However, Network Solutions strategy is wrong-headed.
    They should be spending this time and effort on building their own unique brand – not promoting GoDaddy.

    That said, I’m sure GoDaddy is loving it…

  2. This is a funny twist of selling domain names. I am sorry to hear that the “Pats” didn’t make it this year…

    Which company ended up investing money in social media activities instead of the usual ad during the Super Bowl?

  3. Martin, why it was Network Solutions, of course, that invested in this online video!

    – Anita

  4. Anita, that is one of the best videos I have seen in a while and very funny. Importantly it does make you watch until the end which is not easy to do with the length of the video.

    It will be interesting to see the reaction if any from Go Daddy. One question for you or Network Solutions is this to directly attract Go Daddy customers (current and potential) and do they know that Go Daddy customers could be persuaded by these videos?

  5. Thanks Anita and Martin. I think we ant small business to understand that online marketing can helpt a business can make a splash withOUT spending millions. Small Business can make vidoes to tell thier story as well.


  6. I tried to remember which company it was and I found it when I searched the net. Pepsi did it last year. Read Mathew Ingram’s post, Pepsi Has Already Won By Avoiding the Super Bowl on Gigaom.com.

    I am curious as Susan to know more about Network Solutions game plan for this ad campaign. Shashi: Please keep us informed how it goes with the “splash”! I think that this video could go viral and surf along the web in a huge wave! Maybe you could call it a “groundswell”! 🙂

  7. Oh, Martin — now I understand your question. You were talking about last year. But this year, Network Solutions is also avoiding TV ads by using social media, with this video.

  8. FHiggs, Normally I would agree with you, that it’s not wise to do anything to remind people of your competitor. However, in this case the competitor so well known for their Super Bowl ads that this video doesn’t change that. What it does is get people talking about Network Solutions. I wasn’t privy to the exact reasoning behind this video, and can only make educated guesses. But my guess is that getting people talking is exactly what Network Solutions wanted.

    – Anita

  9. Susan, that’s a good question. I first learned of this video yesterday (and was not part of making it in any way), and so can only give an educated guess. Let me suggest how it appears to me: it seems like this video is directly aimed at women entrepreneurs — and specifically Web entrepreneurs or small businesses with a significant online presence. Those entrepreneurs almost certainly already know about GoDaddy. In fact, they might even laugh at the GoDaddy videos, but deep down they feel uneasy with women being portrayed as sex symbols. That’s a big part of who it will appeal to. That’s my guess.

    – Anita

  10. Anita – you are right – we created this video to connect with our small business and entreprenureial customers, many of whom are women business owners.

    FHiggs – While referring to a competitor could be a risk, we thought it provided the perfect vehicle – and Cloris Leachman did a great job – she’s quite funny.

    This online version of a super bowl ad / mockumentary is a way to poke fun at our competitor’s over the top ads, give our existing customers a laugh and get them to share it with their friends using social media, and at the end – have one of our customers, Lisa Stone and BlogHer.com help to tell our story. We’re trying a different approach to reach out small business customers via social media. Thanks for the discussion

  11. It’s pretty darn amazing how resilient Cloris is, and of course, as well as Betty White. They’re still standing after more than 50 decades, and they still got it. As for the effectiveness of an ad like this, I think it’s a toss between it’s cheap and will go viral instantly, but a mockumentary will always give the competing brand exposure as well.

  12. Anita,

    I discussed the Super Bowl ads with Joel Libava during my podcast on January 29.

    Where could I find the commercials for this year? Did the Old Spice guy do a stunt this year too?

    How was the game? I am sorry to hear that the New England Patriots didn’t make it this year…

  13. Hi Anita,

    This is funny and creative, the video shows how you can do a lot within a budget and not going over board. However, I agree that mockumentary does always highlight the competing company, but I personally feel this will still be an effective way of marketing.
    Thanks for sharing!

    Riya Sam
    Training for Entrepreneurs.com

  14. This has been a exciting time for us. Some of you have met me at conferences and events where I am evangelizing new media tools. What these tools enable Small Business to do is to consider their marketing as story telling and attract attention of new prospects or customers. One of my favorite examples is do a google search for “fireplace repair” and ‘Furnace repair” see how innovative businesses show you how to do it yourself and at the end of watching the video you realize you have to call one of these firms as its is difficult to do it yourself. What did these companies do ?

    a) Used new media to educate
    b) By sharing their skills they proved their expertise.
    c) Extended their marketing to YouTube which is among the top 3 search engines

    So use new media tools. Our experience with this campaign caught the attention of several folks who analyzed our campaign and these links will be helpful.

    http://www.networksolutions.com/blog/2011/viral-video-marketing-lessons-from-the-go-granny-girl/ and



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