Super Bowl advertisers use Net for end run around NFL, Fox

Summary:Thanks in part to the a mention in the very popular Scobelizer blog from Microsoft's Robert Scoble, word is spreading 'round the net very quickly that, at the request of the NFL, Fox Television yanked the second scheduled run of GoDaddy.com's commercial based on its content.

Thanks in part to the a mention in the very popular Scobelizer blog from Microsoft's Robert Scoble, word is spreading 'round the net very quickly that, at the request of the NFL, Fox Television yanked the second scheduled run of GoDaddy.com's commercial based on its content. Clearly, someone at the NFL has their priorities mixed up and I'll explain why in one second. This blog entry more about how advertisers are using network TV to create controversies that push viewers onto the Net (yes Fox and NFL, you've been Punk'd, just not by Ashton Kutcher).

The ad, which is a spoof on the so-called malfunction of Janet Jackson's wardrobe during last year's Super Bowl halftime show, features a scantily clad woman whose strap springs loose, putting her on the verge of her own wardrobe malfunction (which ultimately never happens).

As it turns out, Fox's mid-Super Bowl decision to comply with the NFL's request may be the best thing that happened to Go Daddy. For starters, I'm guessing it won't have to pay for the unaired commercial (saving the Go Daddy millions of dollars). Second, Go Daddy is apparently getting more publicity than it ever dreamed of as a result of the censorship. Not only has Go Daddy founder Bob Parsons posted the details in his personal blog which is so overloaded that people may have difficulty getting in (it took me several tries), once people get through, they can find their way to not one but two commercials: the one that was pulled at the NFL's request and another racier one that Fox completely rejected in January.

News of the censorship puts the spotlight on way that some companies are using network television's sensitivities, and the resulting controversies, to their advantage. Not only has Go Daddy successfully executed an end-run in driving people to its Web site (out of the reach of TV execs), but Budweiser has also created a made-for-the-Internet commercial broadcast that gives a behind-the-scenes look at how Jackson' original wardrobe malfunction may have come to be. Last week, the Internet-only ad received national attention as the subject of a report on National Public Radio.

What's not clear is whether the NFL is sensitive to the sexual nature of the content or having fun poked at it over last year's mishap (perhaps they're just a bit touchy?). Budweiser's ad is hardly sexual in nature but never aired. Either way, I think the NFL's censors have their priorities screwed up. Why? As my family -- including my three-year old who just started the nightmare phase that many three year olds do -- sat down to watch the Super Bowl, I found myself covering my toddler's eyes through commercials for War of the Worlds (which showed a little girl who was scared out of her daylights), XXX 2 (almost nothing but guns, fire, and violence), and Constantine (nothing but frightening scenes). The problem with commercials like these is that you have no idea that they're coming. One second, you're watching football (which the three-year old loves) an the next second, guns, violence, and fear. I'll take the spoof on the wardrobe malfunction any day. >

Topics: Censorship

About

David Berlind was fomerly the executive editor of ZDNet. David holds a BBA in Computer Information Systems. Prior to becoming a tech journalist in 1991, David was an IT manager.

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