GoDaddy: NFL to Review Ad

Steve McClellan

NEW YORK In an unusual move, the National Football League intends to review any commercial from the domain name registry company that ABC clears for broadcast during the Super Bowl.

So says GoDaddy CEO Bob Parsons, who today updated his efforts to secure a spot in this year’s game on his blog located at the company’s Web site.

The NFL denied it would review the ad.

Parsons reported that ABC has also rejected a 10th version of the ad that GoDaddy hopes to run during the game, which would feature Candice Michelle, who also appeared in last year’s controversial GoDaddy Super Bowl spot.

“We received an indication Friday that the NFL will review any commercial GoDaddy submits that ABC approves,” Parsons wrote. “To the best of my knowledge the NFL has never participated in the commercial approval process. So this could be another first for GoDaddy.”

Last year’s GoDaddy spot parodied the brouhaha that erupted after the prior Super Bowl half-time show in which Janet Jackson briefly exposed one of her breasts on national TV after her costume was torn by fellow performer Justin Timberlake. Last year’s GoDaddy spot was supposed to have aired twice in the game, but Fox pulled it after one airing following complaints from the NFL that it was too controversial.

ABC declined to comment on whether the NFL has indicated it would review any Go Daddy that the network approves. “We are working with and we are optimistic,” a network rep said.

However, an NFL rep denied the league instructed ABC to submit any GoDaddy spot to for final approval. “That is not true,” the rep said of Parsons’ posting. The NFL does review some commercials, the rep said, but only those submitted by official NFL sponsors and even in those cases, only commercials that use NFL logos and imagery.

Told of the NFL’s denial, a GoDaddy rep said Parsons stood by his version of events, citing his own “credible sources.”

But clearly there is an expectation from the league that spots approved by the network to air during the game would be appropriate for a family environment, the rep said.

After Fox aired the first GoDaddy spot in last year’s Super Bowl, the league called Fox “raising the question of why a spot like that was in the game,” the rep said. “We did not tell Fox to cancel the second spot. We did not even know there was a second spot in the first place,” the rep said.

Fox got the message and pulled the second airing of GoDaddy’s spot. Had the league known a second GoDaddy spot was to air would it have urged Fox to cancel it? “That’s hard to say,” said the rep.

There are some 20 official NFL sponsors, but not all of them advertise in the Super Bowl. Coors, for example, is the official beer sponsor of the NFL, but does not advertise in the game because Anheuser-Busch has exclusive alcohol marketing rights to the game. Among the NFL sponsors in the game this year are General Motors, PepsiCo and Burger King.

This story updates an item posted earlier today with comments from the NFL.