Watch 4 controversial GoDaddy Super Bowl ads before its IPO

March 30, 2015, 5:01 PM UTC
Photograph by Laura Dickinson — AP

With domain hosting business GoDaddy set to go public this week, there’s no time better than now to take a look back at a slew of Super Bowl ads that had people talking for days after.

GoDaddy touts itself as the largest place on the web to buy domain names, with 13 million customers. It’s made a push in recent years to become a bigger services provider to small businesses, too. The company is set to offer 22 million shares in its initial public offering, at a price of $17 to $19 per share, raising just shy of $400 million in the process. Its market capitalization would be about $2.7 billion as a result.

Here’s a look at four controversial GoDaddy Super Bowl ads.

The pulled puppy ad

In January, GoDaddy made a splash when it launched a Super Bowl ad featuring a lost puppy. A riff off a Budweiser commercial, the ad features a dog that’s lost and then returns to its owners only to find out its being sold on a GoDaddy-powered website. “Look! It’s Buddy! I’m so glad you made it home because I just sold you on this website I built with GoDaddy,” a woman says to the puppy, which leaps into her arms.

But some people weren’t happy, prompting the company to pull the spot. “We underestimated the emotional response,” CEO Blake Irving said. “And we heard that loud and clear.”

Bodybuilders running

GoDaddy aired a spot last year that did end up running during the Super Bowl, but it was no less controversial. The topic: body builders running to a tanning shop. The ad featured a bulked up Danica Patrick, the NASCAR superstar, among a herd of beefy men looking for their tanning fix. At the shop, a woman behind the counter (assumed to be a small business owner) prepares for the incoming customers and says, “It’s go time”—the company’s catchphrase.

The Bar Rafaeli kiss

In a 2013 spot, supermodel Bar Rafaeli, the cover model for the 2009 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, shares a passionate kiss with a bespectacled small business owner. GoDaddy pitchwoman Danica Patrick then says: “There are two sides to GoDaddy. The sexy side represented by Bar Rafaeli and the smart side that creates a killer website for your small business represented by Walter. Together, they’re perfect.”

“I Own You”

In this 30-second Super Bowl spot from 2007, a couple co-workers are featured buying domain names. One guy is buying websites of the other’s family members, including his wife and his dog, leaving the other more and more upset. The victim catches onto the ploy (for only $1.99 a domain, GoDaddy trumpets!) and says he bought his mother’s website. A third co-worker walks by, catches only a snippet of the conversation, and isn’t impressed.

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