GoDaddy’s New Image Pumps Up Super Bowl Ad

Something odd happened in mid-December. Danica Patrick, squeezed into a muscle suit, crashed through a cyclone fence and led a pack of bodybuilders down a street in search of a small-business solution (more on that later). The image is jarring -- not just the diminutive Patrick bulked up, but the absence of scantily clad women in a GoDaddy commercial for the Super Bowl.

"When I first saw (the costume), I thought, 'Holy crap!'" Patrick said, eyes widening to emphasize her point. "But I understand this ad is about brand extension, and more about what they do now."

"C'mon, check out my muscles," Patrick implored, showing off a foam-rubber suit meticulously painted with veins.

The change of pace -- OK, radical departure -- is part of a corporate makeover. "It's been a transformative year," says Blake Irving, GoDaddy's new CEO. "Our new message is that of the go-getter -- valuable, edgy and fun. Two years ago, it was provocative, sexy, crazy, gutsy."

This isn't some 30-second gimmick, but a systemic change to reflect a big shift in how GoDaddy intends to do business. The TV spot underscores GoDaddy's push to make more premium small-business services available to its 12 million customers (it had 11 million a year ago).

In one of its first large-scale partnerships, GoDaddy last week named Microsoft Office 365 as the exclusive e-mail/productivity service for its small-business customers. The company is also enhancing its invoicing and Web-hosting services for business owners.

GoDaddy cut its teeth in registering domain names and offering Web-hosting services before diving into the small-business market.

It envisions a steep upside to its new strategy: There are 28 million small businesses in the USA, and 125 million worldwide, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Of the 28 million small businesses, 92% have fewer than four employees.

This isn't your father's Go-Daddy.

Patrick's 13th Super...

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