As sure as the sun rises, the milk is delivered and bad romantic comedies are dumped into theaters around Valentine's Day, Go Daddy had one of its forthcoming Super Bowl ads rejected by the TV network broadcasting the game (in this case, CBS).
This year's ad altered the playbook somewhat with a tinge of homophobia, featuring an "effeminate former football player who designs lingerie for women."
Winner of the best acting award for a company CEO, Bob Parsons, has his mock shock lines down perfectly: “It’s the first time for me I’ve been baffled. Usually we may get an ad rejected and we’ll understand. We may not agree, but we understand.”
It was a great trick the first couple of times, employing the often powerful "reverse psychology" ploy of purposefully calling attention to being turned down to drum up curiosity. Go Daddy milked it by showboating that the censored ad could be viewed on their web site, driving a ton of buzz and traffic there.
You would think guys didn't see enough scantily-dressed women just walking by any newsstand. But why deny the opportunity to see race car driver Danica Patrick slip out of a shower wearing nothing but a bathrobe and a smile?
There's no doubt that like clockwork, Go Daddy shoots one ad a little more risque than the others, submits it to the network, probably knowing fully well that it's going to get turned down... and it does... and then out go the press releases and claims of prudishness and unfairness.
The gimmick works great in a two-fold way: 1) it saves Go Daddy the exorbitant millions they'd have to foot for another Super Bowl spot by drumming up "scripted controversy" then screening on their web site and 2) it raises awareness that the Go Daddy ad that will air will probably be edgy and sexy too.
The press and the public have been to this well once too often, yet they can't stay away from a good "corporate guy unfairly beats down the little guy" scenario, even if it's clearly manufactured.
Not content to let Go Daddy hog the "controversial rejection" spotlight this year, Toronto-based gay dating site ManCrunch.com is getting into the act, reaping loads of press by loudly announcing CBS' rejection of their ad, playing the old "discrimination card." As Ad Age's Brian Steinberg said in his Twitter feed: "The furor over CBS/Mancrunch is sound and fury signifying nothing. These publicity stunts happen ever year and press falls for em every yr."
CBS said they turned down the ad partly because of financial reasons. Heck, I'm getting a bunch of my buddies together to chip in $10 each to shoot a cheapo Super Bowl ad for next year, touting our new "straight white people from Queens" dating service 718date.com just to submit it, get turned away and alert the media immediately for our 15 minutes of fame.
I don't see why other marketers can't adopt this network rejection strategy for their own publicity buzz purposes. For example...
* Federal Express packages delivered by Maxim models. REJECTED!
* The Budweiser Clydesdales chasing lustily after a younger female filly. REJECTED!
* Female job candidates posting their photos and measurements in a CareerBuilder.com ad. REJECTED!
* The E-Trade baby finally does a number one on camera. REJECTED!
* Dr. Pepper lets spokesman Gene Simmons really show what that famous long tongue is for. REJECTED!