GoDaddy, which calls itself the largest Web host and domain register on the Internet, announced a new brand strategy to appeal to “courageous” small business owners and entrepreneurs.
The announcement was accompanied by a new website and a new TV ad spot. Instead of the “GoDaddy girls” wearing skin-tight T shirts, the new ad features Belgian martial arts expert and film star, Jean-Claude Van Damme, along with a fictional bakery owner. It debuted on prime time television on the NFL football season opener Thursday night. It can also be seen on YouTube.
CEO Irving Blake said in an email Thursday to GoDaddy customers that it’s an outgrowth of research that the company conducted. In his email Blake explained to customers:
“One of the clearest lessons we’ve learned is that the one word to describe you best is ‘courageous.’ You go after what you really love, you chart your own course, and you create something (often from nothing) that usually makes the world a better place. Whether it’s a neighborhood pizza shop, an organization to help those in need, or a company poised to launch a new industry, you believe where others don’t. You have the guts to strike out on your own to make your dreams — however bold or humble — a reality. That’s courage, and it’s worth every ounce of support we can give.”
Transformation: Image and Business Model
GoDaddy has been in the midst of a transformation, as we wrote earlier in May.
This time last year, the company was welcoming its third CEO in less than 12 months. Controversial founder and CEO Bob Parsons (who still owns part of the company) had departed. New investors — KKR Capstone, Silver Lake Partners and Technology Crossover Ventures — reportedly bought 65% of the company for over $2 billion in 2011.
In addition to the management change, the company is in the midst of broadening its service offerings. To achieve that, GoDaddy has been on an acquisition path. In July of 2012 GoDaddy acquired Outright, a bookkeeping software application. Last month the company took another step by announcing the acquisition of Locu, a local search listings service. The company says the Locu acquisition will help more than 30,000 restaurants, spas, salons, accountants, photographers, home-remodeling companies and other small businesses boost their digital presence.
Simpler Website, Less-Polarizing Ads
Since 2011 GoDaddy has simplified its website. A year ago the site was jam-packed with upsells for domain name services. It had a lot of technical language unintelligible to small business owners and marketing managers. Now the website is simpler and easier to digest, emphasizing the basics for a Web presence: websites, hosting, domain names.
Another change is a focus beyond the online digerati such as online-only entrepreneurs and domainers. GoDaddy now is specifically reaching out to Main Street small businesses, in addition to online entrepreneurs.
For example, the new GoDaddy 30-second ad with martial artist Van Damme features a solo bakery owner. The baker glances at the online orders piling up on his website, while kneading bread dough. The baker calls on his inner Van Damme to get motivated to meet the orders. Van Damme plays several instruments in the ad, each with a fast beat, while doing the full splits he’s known for. At the end Van Damme says, “It’s go time.”
Absent from the ad are the busty women that put the GoDaddy brand on the map, but turned off some women business owners.
Another recent GoDaddy video on YouTube features employees referring to local small business owners like craftsmen, divorce lawyers and plumbers.
GoDaddy’s sales topped $1 billion last year. It employs 3,900 people.