A cuddly puppy is a tried-and-true subject for Super Bowl ads. It worked for Budweiser last year, and Doritos enlisted canines in its 2012 campaign. This year, GoDaddy has cast a nine-week old Golden Retriever to star in its upcoming ad during the game.
The puppy will star with Danica Patrick, who also appeared in the brand's '14 campaign. This year marks GoDaddy's 11th year as a Super Bowl advertiser, and it's the 14th Big Game spot to star Patrick.
After years of running eyebrow-raising and racy commercials, GoDaddy's Super Bowl campaign builds on a new toned-down image that began rolling out last year with an ad featuring Jean-Claude Van Damme.
For last year's Super Bowl, GoDaddy featured a woman who publicly quit her job to pursue her dream of starting her own business.
"We basically shifted our awareness campaigns to campaigns that told people what we do and who we do that for, which is the small business owner—this is the ongoing extension of that," said Barb Rechterman, CMO of GoDaddy.
"[With] the Super Bowl convention of using an animal in that spot—we're actually doing that with a new twist," she said. "There's a twist for us that's enabling us to make a point about empowering small business owners to succeed online."
Getting a Head Start
As is the case with most Super Bowl initiatives, GoDaddy's marketing is beginning long before the actual game takes place on Feb. 1.
Through Thursday, GoDaddy is asking people to submit names for the puppy with the hashtag #GoDaddyPuppy. The name will be used when GoDaddy's ad is shot later this week.
Already, people have thrown out names like Domain, Nugget and Buster while GoDaddy's social team is responding to the requests on Twitter.
Then next week, GoDaddy will launch a website for the dog using, of course, the company's products.
The puppy will also be given its own Twitter handle that will be used leading up to and during the game. Patrick's own Twitter account (which boasts more than 1.13 million followers) will also be employed as part of the Super Bowl campaign.
On Super Bowl Sunday, GoDaddy will set up a social media command room with a team made up of writers and marketers, who will listen in and respond to social chatter throughout the game.
The group will also push out social content during the game, which is split equally between posts that are planned beforehand and content that is created on the fly.
For example, Rechterman pointed to a tweet from last year as an example of the type of content that will be created during the upcoming game. When the Denver Broncos were trailing the Seattle Seahawks, the team sent out a tweet that photoshopped Peyton Manning's face onto the face of the woman featured in its commercial.
That's not to say that Facebook isn't as important for GoDaddy, though. Last year, the brand reached nearly 1 million people on the social platform during the game.
"This gives us an opportunity to show what we do in the context of the Super Bowl commercial," Rechterman said.