Behaviour Change

PROPAGANDA FOR CHANGE is a project created by the students of Behaviour Change (ps359) and Professor Thomas Hills @thomhills at the Psychology Department of the University of Warwick. This work was supported by funding from Warwick's Institute for Advanced Teaching and Learning.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Go Daddy: Perfect (Mis)Match

The following commercial is an advertisement for Go Daddy that was aired during the 2013 Super Bowl game airtime. It features two well known female celebrities and one lesser known actor. It begins with a woman saying, “There are two sides to Go Daddy.There’s the sexy side represented by Bar Refaeli, and there’s the smart sides that creates a killer website for your small business, represented by Walter. Together, they’re perfect.” After that the “two sides of Go Daddy” kiss for what seems like an eternity, font covers the screen that says, “When sexy meets smart, your business scores.” The announcer then ends the commercial with, “Get your domain and website at”

The technique that the creators of this advertisement used was hard to pinpoint, even though not a single positive review has been published. Everyone seems to know it doesn’t work, yet the focus on the uncomfortable kiss makes it hard to pinpoint why. I believe the technique the company attempted to use was both metaphor and the physically attractive admirer altercast.

Danica Patrick began the ad by labeling Bar Refaeli as the sexy side and Walter as the smart side. The metaphor continues when she points out that combined they create the best website for the viewer’s small business. The metaphor here is strange, as if Go Daddy is putting together smart people with sexy people to get a desirable outcome. All that came into my mind was forcing people to breed, especially when you focus in on the “sexy side’s” uncomfortable looking face right before the kiss. While the metaphor is obvious if you can stop focusing on the uncomfortable kiss the two share, it is maybe a bit to in your face to cause a consumer to want to do business with the site. People have come out against the ad, saying the will now end or avoid any relations with this company.

An experiment conducted by McQuarrie and Phillips took on the task of testing whether or not the use of indirect claims by magazine advertisements are gaining the company an advantage by persuading viewers of the ad to buy whatever is being sold. The experimenters hypothesized that consumers who were presented with an indirect metaphorical claim would be more likely to be receptive to multiple positive inferences. The second hypothesis was that when the indirect metaphorical claim was in the form of an image, consumers would then be more likely to have positive inferences during the time of the ad spontaneously. Participants in this experiment were exposed to a total of seven ads and were asked to respond to multiple statements concerning each ad. They were briefed by being told that advertisers like for their ads to have a controlled meaning, and to ensure that the meaning suggested is what they intended, they have to pretest their ads with consumers. Participants looked at “rough” ads and asked whether the message implied was intended or not.  The multiple statements were predetermined and participants were asked to choose one from a set of options. The findings of this research experiment were that the use of metaphorical claims in ads helps consumers be more receptive to distinct, positive and multiple inferences about the “product,” while still maintaining to convey the main message. Metaphors were also found to elicit multiple spontaneous inferences during the time the ad is exposed if the metaphor was presented visually. These results support the idea that the openness  of the indirect metaphorical claim is what is responsible for the ad’s persuasive advantage. Results from the experiment also concluded that visual rhetorical figures might be more helpful than verbal rhetorical figures.

A persuasive technique that I only realized once rereading my response was that of the physically attractive admirer altercast. In this advertisement, Bar Refaeli is put onto a sort of pedestal. Both her first and last name are stated, while the smart side only has his first name said, and as if it is an afterthought. The way she is dressed gives the impression that she has money and the time to take care of herself, while Walter looks like he could be on his lunch break. I’m not sure if this was done on purpose, but right before the two sides share a very long kiss, Bar Refaeli has an expression on her face. Many critics of the ad have labeled it as her reminding herself that she is thinking, “I’m getting paid, I’m getting paid.” All jokes aside, every viewer of this advertisement is aware that it is very rare for a man like Walter to ever have a chance of dating, let alone kissing a supermodel. This contrast between the two sides, even though it is done on purpose for the sakes of the metaphor, is taken to another level with the prestigiousness of Bar Refaeli and the obvious difference in looks the two share. Multiple studies have shown that people are more receptive to messages and more likely to comply when a message is given or supported by a person who is considered attractive. This ad not only has one attractive female, but two. They are showed in contrast to Walter, who is shown as the more behind the scenes person who will build you your website.

McQuarrie, E.F. and Phillip, B.J., 2005. Indirect Persuasion in Advertising: How Consumers Process Metaphors Presented in Pictures and Words. Journal of Advertising, 34(2), pp. 7-20.

1 comment:

  1. Very well done. But this ad was already posted. Please post another ad that embodies the same research beneath what you've written. Thanks.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.