Does Using Sex(ism) To Sell Products Ever Backfire?


Go Daddy’s sexist ads may have driven away customers, but will a new crop of ads featuring women who love hairy backs, giving blow jobs, and covering up domestic abuse cause a backlash too?

In Advertising Age, Teressa Iezzi writes that for the past few years she’s given Go Daddy a pass on their sexist advertising. But after this year’s Super Bowl ads featuring Danica Patrick, she’s decided to take her business elsewhere, as “the company’s brand persona makes me feel unwelcome as a woman.”

Iezzi says that while Go Daddy’s ads have been sexist from the start, at first she was able to justify the company’s juvenile emphasis on “boobies” because that’s what it takes to get noticed.

When the company manufactured its first bit of controversy in 2005, well, it wasn’t a banner day for feminism or advertising, but one sort of gave the company an eye roll and a pass — it was getting its name out on the Super Bowl using the most old-school, obvious means possible.

And it seems the ads were effective, since Iezzi is a Go Daddy customer.

A few years back when I started registering domain names, like many, I just immediately went to the only company that sprang to mind. So the ads worked and that’s the beginning and the end of this argument, right? Well, not quite. Go Daddy’s case raises some interesting questions. Is any awareness good awareness anymore? And can a brand maintain growth by just continuing to pump out any kind of garbage that has traditionally guaranteed eyeballs?

Sadly, the answer is probably yes, as even Iezzi, an advertising journalist, admits that for a few years she simply wasn’t paying attention to how Go Daddy was advertising its product and gave the company her business. Whether or not a sexist ad creates a backlash big enough to actually drive customers away probably depends on whether people are actually paying attention to the ads and the intended audience, as illustrated by the commercials below, sent to us by readers.

Women are shown as a commodity, just like a bottle of booze, in the ad below. Jim Beam is the bourbon, just as an beautiful model who loves hairy backs and having a boyfriend who frequents strip clubs is the girlfriend. But, as evidenced by the comments left on YouTube that discuss how hot the actress is and proclaim her to be “THE PERFECT WOMAN!,” the frat boy the ad is aimed at is unlikely to stop buying Jim Beam.

The company is, of course, relying on the idea that women don’t drink bourbon, which seems to go for energy drinks as well. The makers of Stacker 2 Six Hour Power energy shots would probably be surprised to learn that women actually watch Comedy Central and weren’t pleased with the ad below.

While usually cleaning products are marketed to women, the makers of this Lime-A-Way ad have decided to go for that non-existent group of people who find allusions to domestic violence victims hilarious. Hopefully all those housewives who spend hours obsessively cleaning their bathtubs will take note and remember not to buy the stuff.

Gone Daddy Gone: Heinous Ads May Cost Go Daddy Customers [Advertising Age]

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