Cloris Leachman appears in an ad for domain registrar Network Solutions; the ad promotes a service offered by the registrar which competes with GoDaddy.com. Most Super Bowl fans will recognize GoDaddy’s ads with little prompting; they generally feature a young and prominently endowed woman dressed scantily while breathlessly promoting GoDaddy’s brand. GoDaddy has also featured ads with Indy Series/NASCAR driver Danica Patrick, but the ads still revolve around a young woman. In at least one recent case, a GoDaddy ad featuring Patrick was rejected because of its reference to beavers; one might well ask what beavers have to do with domain registrations.

The Network Solutions’ Leachman ad represents anti-marketing, which Geoff Livingston wrote about yesterday, discussing a trend in “unselling” products. The Volkswagen ad with the tiny Darth Vader wannabe (see at bottom of this post) could also be seen as an anti-marketing ad; there’s little effort made to push the product, only a subtle appeal through the ubiquity of the subject across a range of potential buyers, made in a way which cuts through all the other advertising — targeted buyers of the Volkswagen in the ad are familiar with Star Wars and are likely of child-rearing age, and can readily relate to the ad. This isn’t a new approach; it’s been more common among European companies to use an indirect approach to selling. New, though, is the uptick in this kind of marketing, intended to break through the deluge of promotions pushed through regular broadcast and cable outlets, and now social media.

What’s particularly important about the Leachman ad is not unselling or anti-marketing, but the pointed pushback at advertising which uses young women as objects to promote a product while doing little to convey anything about the product’s merits. One might well wonder what it is that GoDaddy offers customers after watching one of their well-endowed ads — what does GoDaddy have to do at all with the internet?  [cont’d.]

The advocate at the end of the YouTube ad above is a critical point of departure as well; BlogHer.com’s CEO Lisa Stone dispels the notion that women are only window dressing for a technology product. Women are purchasers of domain services, and are among those customers that want to “get serious” as the ad’s tagline says are those who want trustworthy and effective technology products and services, not breast-enhanced glitz.

Women have been given short-shrift in technology for a very long time, even though they have become a driving force in technology consumption. The disparity in how women are treated by the technology has been the focus of several organizations, among them the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology, and Women Who Tech, an organization which hosts an annual summit focusing on parity in the technology industry. The work of these organizations may finally have paid off — 15 years after the Borg Institute launched — if a member of the technology industry is finally willing to stake a sizable chunk of marketing cash to go after the market segment which doesn’t want or need sexist messaging to promote products and services.

But perhaps the raw numbers convinced Network Solutions to do the Leachman ad:

As of 2005, there are an estimated 10.1 million majority-owned, privately-held, women-owned firms in the U.S., employing 18.2 million people and generating $2.32 trillion in sales. Women-owned businesses account for 28 percent of all businesses in the United States and represent about 775,000 new startups per year and account for 55 percent of new startups.

That’s an awfully big market segment to insult with bimbo-laden ads to promote products and services.

Cloris Leachman appears in an ad for domain registrar Network Solutions; the ad promotes a service offered by the registrar which competes with GoDaddy.com. Most Super Bowl fans will recognize GoDaddy’s ads with little prompting; they generally feature a young and prominently endowed woman dressed scantily while breathlessly promoting GoDaddy’s brand. GoDaddy has also featured ads with Indy Series/NASCAR driver Danica Patrick, but the ads still revolve around a young woman. In at least one recent case, a GoDaddy ad featuring Patrick was rejected because of its reference to beavers; one might well ask what beavers have to do with domain registrations.

The Network Solutions’ Leachman ad represents anti-marketing, which Geoff Livingston wrote about yesterday, discussing a trend in “unselling” products. The Volkswagen ad with the tiny Darth Vader wannabe (see at bottom of this post) could also be seen as an anti-marketing ad; there’s little effort made to push the product, only a subtle appeal through the ubiquity of the subject across a range of potential buyers, made in a way which cuts through all the other advertising — targeted buyers of the Volkswagen in the ad are familiar with Star Wars and are likely of child-rearing age, and can readily relate to the ad. This isn’t a new approach; it’s been more common among European companies to use an indirect approach to selling. New, though, is the uptick in this kind of marketing, intended to break through the deluge of promotions pushed through regular broadcast and cable outlets, and now social media.

What’s particularly important about the Leachman ad is not unselling or anti-marketing, but the pointed pushback at advertising which uses young women as objects to promote a product while doing little to convey anything about the product’s merits. One might well wonder what it is that GoDaddy offers customers after watching one of their well-endowed ads — what does GoDaddy have to do at all with the internet?

The advocate at the end of the YouTube ad above is a critical point of departure as well; BlogHer.com’s CEO Lisa Stone dispels the notion that women are only window dressing for a technology product. Women are purchasers of domain services, and are among those customers that want to “get serious” as the ad’s tagline says are those who want trustworthy and effective technology products and services, not breast-enhanced glitz.

Women have been given short-shrift in technology for a very long time, even though they have become a driving force in technology consumption. The disparity in how women are treated by the technology has been the focus of several organizations, among them the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology, and Women Who Tech, an organization which hosts an annual summit focusing on parity in the technology industry. The work of these organizations may finally have paid off — 15 years after the Borg Institute launched — if a member of the technology industry is finally willing to stake a sizable chunk of marketing cash to go after the market segment which doesn’t want or need sexist messaging to promote products and services.

But perhaps the raw numbers convinced Network Solutions to do the Leachman ad:

As of 2005, there are an estimated 10.1 million majority-owned, privately-held, women-owned firms in the U.S., employing 18.2 million people and generating $2.32 trillion in sales. Women-owned businesses account for 28 percent of all businesses in the United States and represent about 775,000 new startups per year and account for 55 percent of new startups.

That’s an awfully big market segment to insult with bimbo-laden ads to promote products and services.

Rayne

Rayne

Blogger since 2002, political activist since 2003, FDL community member since 2005, geek since birth.

Fan of science and technology, wannabe artist, decent cook, successful troublemaker and purveyor of challenging memetics whose genetics may be only nominally better.

Assistant Editor at Firedoglake and Editor at The Seminal.