Go Daddy has made its name creating Super Bowl commercials that trot out scantily clad ladies who have very little to do with the business of website domain name registration. But its latest big-game spot has run afoul of Canadian ad clearance authorities for a very different reason.
Unlike its Super Bowl content in recent years, the offending ad showed nothing like a model wearing only body paint; a girl who does a striptease without being asked; or a baseless suggestion that spokesperson Danica Patrick will walk around naked just because some guy in a suit tells her to. This year's commercial has been held up because of a half-empty glass of champagne.
According to Go Daddy, the Television Bureau of Canada (TVB), which screens all ads for broadcast in this country, has rejected the commercial in its current version.
The ad features a series of conversations in which different men around the world fail to register a Web domain to protect their "big idea." In the final scene, a clearly wealthy man in his private jet says he is happy that he did so.
TVB president Theresa Treutler declined comment because the ad clearance process is confidential. But the offending element seems to be the glass in the man's hand. His attractive employee asks him if he'd like more champagne, and the man replies, "More everything, sky waitress."
TVB guidelines stipulate that ads in Canada cannot show people drinking alcohol, or imply consumption with a part-empty wine glass or beer bottle, among other rules. "Caution must be exercised when incorporating scenes of unbranded alcohol as a prop for mood-setting in commercials," the guidelines say.
Those rules are similar to those laid out in the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission's "Code for Broadcast Advertising of Alcoholic Beverages," which governs ads for alcoholic drinks. The use of unbranded alcohol in other ads falls more generally under TVB's scrutiny.
As an American advertiser, Go Daddy apparently had not anticipated these limitations. "When I heard it, I just went, 'What? What a strange reason,' " senior executive vice-president and chief marketing officer Barb Rechterman said in an interview Tuesday.
The company is now working to make changes so that the ad will be able to run on Sunday. "If we have to, we'll change the reference to 'sparkling cider' or something like that. Still negotiating," Elizabeth Driscoll, vice-president of public relations, said in a follow-up e-mail.