GoDaddy’s New Ad Is, Surprisingly, Not That Creepy

It’s sad that we have to recognize an ad for being fairly normal, but when it’s coming from GoDaddy – numero uno on our all-time worst offenders list of sexist advertisers – it feels necessary.

Here’s their newest spot, titled, ahem, “Don’t be a Restraining Order Jim” (also know as “TMI”) which first appeared earlier this month:

It’s a play on the process of finding a domain name, and how important naming is for a new business, which, you’d be forgiven if you didn’t realize this before, is actually exactly what GoDaddy is supposed to help you do. This week new CEO Blake Irving, who joined GoDaddy in January, described the shift in strategy to the Wall Street Journal:

“Our advertising is now more focused on what we do as a company and who we do it for.”

What an idea.

In many ways this new commercial serves as an (unintentionally) stinging critique of GoDaddy’s prior advertising strategies. Based on the company’s history of objectifying and demeaning women, if GoDaddy were an actual human person, the name “restraining order Jim” would be pretty appropriate. For years, women (and their allies) have associated the GoDaddy logo with a feeling of ickiness – definitely something they’d rather not stand next to in an office break room. So one might draw a parallel between “Jim” here and the company itself – just a bumbling guy trying to be funny, but accidentally being creepy.

Except, let’s be real, GoDaddy’s advertising strategy for the past decade has been beyond creepy. It’s been harmful and oppressive – a consistently demeaning portrayal of women sent into millions of households every year. “Sexist and misogynist Jim” might have been more appropriate.

Nevertheless, in combination with the CEO’s comments, it does feel like an important shift for the brand. Here’s an ad that despite relying on a bit of base humor (“restraining orders” as the punchline), at least doesn’t use women as objects or overtly demean them. And though this isn’t the first time the company has promised to change its ways, this may be the first actual evidence of new thinking at GoDaddy. A video focusing on women as small business owners was also recently uploaded to the company’s YouTube account.

It seems the thousands of #NotBuyingIt tweets sent to the brand over the years have finally made an impact.

The real test though will be next year’s Super Bowl, when GoDaddy typically has its largest platform and where they have made a name for themselves as a consistently sexist brand. Considering that track record, even just airing something as simple as “Jim” would be a major statement, and proof that CEO Irving is actually committed to moving forward.