The CMO Behind GoDaddy’s Sexist Commercials is a Woman
3:40 pm, February 7th | by Colette McIntyre
Much has been said, written, and dirge-d (I’m look at you, Robert Burns) about man’s inhumanity to man. Even man’s humanity to man has gotten its fair share of news coverage. After years of study and lying in wait, I have finally discovered woman’s ultimate inhumanity to woman: the GoDaddy commercials. Yes, it’s true; it turns out that The Man behind the most sexist and offensive advertisements shown during the Super Bowl (and that’s saying a lot) is a woman.
Barb Rechterman is GoDaddy’s longtime senior executive VP and chief marketing officer; according to the GoDaddy website, Rechterman is in charge of the company’s strategic planning, global branding, and product management. Recently, the CMO sat down with Forbes for a Q & A addressing everything from GoDaddy’s relationship with the Super Bowl to the brand’s notorious “HOT CHICKS! BOOBS! (GUITAR WAIL)” ad campaigns. Rechterman’s answers were…interesting.
According to Rechterman, in 2004, the year before GoDaddy debuted its first Super Bowl ad, the company’s domain name market share was 16 percent; today, eight years after having turned NASCAR driver Danica Patrick into the face of their brand, the share is up to 50 percent. Even this year’s “Perfect Match” ad that repulsed viewers with its depiction of supermodel Bar Rafaeli French-kissing an archetypal, pale-faced geek was deemed a success:
“Whether you loved it or hated it, it’s a memorable spot,” Rechterman said. “And that spot, by the way, helped us achieve our best sales day ever, the Monday after the Super Bowl. We’ve been in business since 1997, and we’ve done nine years’ of Super Bowl ads, so for us to have our best sales day ever, that’s saying a lot.”
Everyone knows that sex sells. Obviously it’s a lot easier for your brand’s name to stay in certain minds when it is painted across a pair of breasts. The question is, do the benefits outweigh the costs? As a woman who 1) rose up a company’s ranks, most likely combatting gender stereotypes on her way and 2) comes from a family of eight women, as she tells Forbes, Rechterman must know that GoDaddy’s incessant stereotyping and objectifying is incredibly regressive and hurtful, right?
A lot of the criticism of “Perfect Match” accused it of reinforcing certain negative stereotypes. Did that bother you to hear?
I’m not sure what negative stereotypes it reinforced.
I guess it was the idea that beautiful women are dumb and need men to help them, that beautiful, dumb women and rich, unattractive men go together.
Interesting. I had not thought of it that way. But I can tell you the goal here was not to stereotype at all, but to make it about two things: to make it acceptable for a beautiful woman to kiss a nerdy guy who might have money, or to make it acceptable for a nerdy guy to kiss a beautiful woman. The goal was to demonstrate our edgy heritage and make it smart, and I think it did that.
Is it fair to say your target customer is a man, given how much of your advertising involves sexy women?
No, our target customer is everybody. I come from a family of eight women, so I’ve got a lot of siblings I have to please
…You’re “not sure what negative stereotypes” the commercial that portrayed women as sexy, stupid objects and programmers as gross nerds reinforced? You’re really going to pretend that GoDaddy is valiantly fighting to mainstream smooches between attractive women and less attractive men, as if there aren’t enough societal representations of that already? You think that the company that depicted heaven as all of the Pussycat Dolls’s ladybits is for “everybody?” Sheesh! I can’t even begin to dismantle that. Rechterman, we would’ve respected you a lot more if you recognized that your campaigns capitalize on frat boy daydreams and sexism; perhaps then you could’ve transitioned into a worthwhile conversation on the stereotypes and biases inherent to advertising and how you, a powerful woman in the industry, handle them. I don’t know about your sisters, but I do know that a lot of other women are not pleased. Think about that and your “edgy heritage” while we try to smuggle poor Danica out of your lair.