GoDaddy ads definitely demeaning – to men
Or the Jockey print campaign with major league pitcher Jim Palmer earlier that decade, back in the day when Sears catalog models still wore undergarments beneath bras? Let's just say the annual baseball forecasts weren't the only reason I looked forward to receiving SPORT magazine in the mail.
Funny how 20 years down the road, neither of those commercials undercuts a blessed thing Palmer or Esiason did on the field or off. Both have gone on to work as television analysts, full clothed now, and Esiason has done amazing things on behalf of cystic fibrosys patients, including his own son.
Yet every time IndyCar driver Danica Patrick does something that reminds people she's a girl, it starts all over again.
How can we take her seriously as an athlete when she's out there flaunting herself? She should focus on racing, not on revealing herself.
As if people wouldn't find room to criticize Patrick even if she walked around wrapped in a burka. Racing legends have flat-out said she doesn't belong, and peers say she has an edge over male drivers at "the right time of the month."
That's why I find the latest Patrick controversy - over the Super Bowl commercials she appeared in for godaddy.com - amusing.
Disclosure: GoDaddy is my host, but I pay them, not the other way around. That decision was based on a recommendation from a friend, not on seeing Patrick plastered all over their home page. For me, the opinions of people I know in real life always have been bigger factors in purchases than the advice of paid pitchmen. Or women.
And yes, the latest GoDaddy Super Bowl ads were demeaning all right, but not to women. They instead insulted men, who were depicted as ogling, drooling nerds with brains a little south of the normal location.
In one that actually aired - the more risque ones were banned from the telecast - three nerdy men huddle around a computer to gaze at a Patrick "web cam." You see her shins and shoulders, and that's it.
The other, more questionable one for prime-time television is a spoof of a government hearing about "enhancements." Two cleavage-rich woman are questioned first and deny the accusation as staid male political types look on. Patrick readily admits enhancing her image with a Web site through godaddy.com.
Still, that ad is no worse than any spoof on any given weekend on "Saturday Night Live" and, had it aired at that hour, it wouldn't have drawn attention much beyond the usual anti-Patrick crowd.
Were the commercials, strategically "leaked" weeks before the game, effective advertising? You bet. People still are talking about and viewing them today. They drove massive traffic to GoDaddy's Web site - if for no other reason than to see the uncensored version of the commercials - and the company says that's translated to an increase in sales.
It's the second-oldest trick in advertising, and GoDaddy CEO Bud Parsons has mastered it. Create a controversy, create continuing buzz, hold attention for far longer than it takes the commercial to air.
People fell for it in this case in particular because society has trouble accepting an attractive woman who has incredible gifts beyond her appearance. It's a problem I'll never experience personally, but too many people want women such as Patrick to be either beauty or the brain. They have trouble dealing when she tries to be both.
I like Patrick. I'd love to see her obliterate the IRL then move over and do the same to NASCAR, in part because I'm hoping to raise a generation of males whose knuckles are less likely to scrape the pavement at the thought of women in racing.
I also like Palmer. I didn't root for him as much because I'm a National League fan. But I have to tell you those ads did motivate me to watch a few more Orioles games than I would have ordinarily. That man's easy on the eyes even when in uniform.
Sex sells. That's the oldest trick in advertising. It seems to be acceptable when the person selling is named Jim, but not when the name is Danica.
Copyright 2009 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.