Is Your Company Telling The Right Kind Of Story?
Would you have liked to own domain space in 2005? Even better, what if you had bought your own name as the domain address? A friend of mine became an uncle recently, and I emailed him saying that I had bought the child’s name in domain space. I said “this could be a curse or a blessing, depending on how much money he ends up making.” The truth of the matter is, it would probably be a blessing.
Domain space has become a powerful commodity. Recently, news outlets were buzzing about Sanmay Ved, an MBA student who bought and owned Google’s domain space for a few minutes. I was not fortunate enough to secure my name in domain space before another Will McPherson had. Honestly, the idea had never occurred to me until I began writing in earnest after graduate school. I wish I had been aware of the simplicity of GoDaddy.com or Google Domains, two of the largest domain sales companies.
In 2005 GoDaddy had an invaluable chance as a company to advertise domain space on a large scale, a product that was not even widely available or acknowledged yet, but undoubtedly valuable to many consumers. Unfortunately, they blew it. How? In an attempt to garnish attention, and subsequently become viral as the term came into existence, GoDaddy.com created an extremely provocative and controversal Super Bowl ad. The commercial, seemingly introspective, showed a model planning to dance in an advertisement for GoDaddy in front of an advisory board while having wardrobe malfunctions, shocking the fictional C-Spin committee, and delighting viewers with an eyeful.
This advertisement first aired in 2005, at which point I was an avid user of the internet, and had begun writing and submitting works for journals. However, the idea of owning domain space had never occurred to me. But could it have? Domain space could have been discussed among less technical people in 2005 if the GoDaddy commercial had given enough information about the value of their product, and a lot less sex. I remember the commercial vividly, but I still did not understand domain space, and I took no steps to research the company after viewing it.
Jonah Berger, author of Contagious, defines valuable virality as “when the brand or product benefit is integral to the [viral] story. When it’s woven so deeply into the narrative that people can’t tell the story without mentioning it.”
What GoDaddy had focused on was comedy and sexuality, but they neglected to make their business’ services integral to the narrative of the story. Perhaps by signifying the value of owning domain space before anyone else did, they could have generated more business, rather than buzz.
Imagine the sentimental value of an ad campaign in which I gift to my friend’s nephew a domain space that has been reserved for him. Whether he becomes a writer, engineer, chef -- the possibilities are endless for him -- because I have saved his domain space, he has the platform to share his accomplishments.
Stories need to be associative in order to remind us of a product when we view it. Otherwise, it’s just a story. An attractive girl shocking a crowd of older politicians is entertaining, but it doesn’t reveal very much about owning your own domain space. The GoDaddy commercial contains no triggers for domain space. In fact, I think that I, like most people, thought that it was an ad for Playboy or Hooters. The worst thing is, they kept doing it. I didn’t know what GoDaddy actually offered until this year when I began shopping for domain space.
In my example, domain space, GoDaddy’s service, is integral to the story. Furthermore, it’s touching, not shocking, and people will notice it. What is the sentimental exchange? Domain space.
“When trying to generate word of mouth, many people forget one important detail. They focus so much on getting people to talk that they ignore the part that really matters: what people are talking about.”
In summary: Stories are a powerful way to advertise. Usually, the ads that elicit the most attention are those that make us feel something. But when you tell a story that has nothing to do with your product, or furthermore distracts from your product, you aren’t going to generate customers.