By Barry Janoff
April 29, 2015: One of the most visible and polarizing athlete-company endorsement deals of the past ten years is coming to an end, with GoDaddy saying that it would not renew its alliance with Nascar's Stewart-Haas Racing and its primary sponsorship of driver Danica Patrick No.10 car following the 2015 season.
Proclaiming it "another milestone in GoDaddy's marketing evolution," the Web site host and technology provider said it planned to "diversify its marketing investment across more channels and regions."
Patrick has been aligned with GoDaddy and driving the eye-popping GoDaddy bright green car since 2010, and it has been her primary sponsor since 2010, when she was an IndyCar driver.
GoDaddy said that it is "not renewing its primary sponsorship of the No. 10 Nascar Sprint Cup Series team of Stewart-Haas Racing and driver Danica Patrick," but is negotiating to keep Patrick as a GoDaddy spokeswoman under a "personal services agreement."
Neither Stewart-Haas Racing or Patrick indicated what sponsor might fill the significant role.
Patrick has been in 13 Super Bowl commercials for GoDaddy, including some titillating spots that envisioned her and other women in overtly sexual situations, which seemed in ways to undermine the challenges that Patrick has faced in fighting for equality in a sport dominated by men.
Ironically, a spot that was scheduled to air this past February during Super Bowl XLIX, "Journey Home," was pulled after animal lovers and animal rights groups objected to the storyline of a lost puppy finding its way home only to be shipped to a new owner who was found on the Web.
According to Patrick, "GoDaddy has been an incredible partner for a very long time, almost nine years, and as I've said before, our brands have really grown up together. It's pretty cool, from a marketing perspective, that we helped GoDaddy build such strong brand awareness here in the U.S."
The alliance paid off for Patrick via income — she takes in upward of $8 million from her roster of annual endorsements, according to industry analysts — financial backing in her racing endeavors and in national recognition. In addition to GoDaddy, her racing endorsements also include Tissot, Aspen Dental, TaxAct, FanVision and Haas Automation. Her personal endorsements also include Coca-Cola, Revo Eyewear and Six Star Pro Nutirtion.
It also has worked for GoDaddy.
According to the Scottsdale, Az.-based company, GoDaddy "has grown to serve 37 countries in 17 languages and is positioning to fortify its presence in Asia by the end of this year."
"Nascar has been a tremendous domestic platform to help us achieve an 81% aided brand awareness domestically, but at this stage, we need a range of marketing assets that reach a more globally-diverse set of customers," Phil Bienert. CMO for GoDaddy," said in a statement. "The fact Danica is having a record-setting season makes it tough to leave this motorsports sponsorship, without a doubt."
This season Patrick set the record for most Top Ten finishes by a woman in Nascar's top series, with six (to date), including a seventh place finish at Martinsville (VA.) Speedway and a ninth place finish at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway earlier this season.
GoDaddy said that it is "balancing brand awareness with a more personalized data-driven marketing approach while expanding its global footprint.
"We love Danica and all she does to empower and inspire people, especially women, which is why we are working to keep her in the GoDaddy family," said Bienert.
According to Patrick, "I'm excited to work with GoDaddy on a personal level moving forward, but will miss having their bright green color on my race car next year."
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