(See post-game update at the end of article. Also, see follow-up post about the commercial GoDaddy ultimately ran.) The TV broadcast of the Super Bowl is known for being the biggest consumer advertising event of each year. This year’s game is expected to be the most watched U.S. televised program ever. With such an audience, and the pre-and post- game focus of media attention on the commercials, it’s no surprise that  30-second commercials are costing close to $5 million.

Super Bowl commercials are almost always aimed at consumers (drinkers of beer and soft drinks, movie goers, car drivers, etc.). However, as we noted last year, an exception to that consumer ad focus are a few commercials that target decision makers at small businesses.

Last year, Intuit, GoDaddy and Squarespace all went head-to-head-to-head on commercials aimed at small businesses needing a website and related online marketing services. This year, GoDaddy is the only returning advertiser from that group (although Intuit will have a consumer focused Turbotax commercial as it did last year).

Here are the two commercials focusing on small business owners and managers this year:

WIX.com

WIX.com, the website creation and hosting service, uses the theme of “life after football” with an NFL Hall of Fame lineup of Brett Favre, Emmitt Smith, Terrell Owens, Larry Allen & Franco Harris as they trade in their jerseys for new uniforms for their new careers as business owners.

GoDaddy

GoDaddy invented the art of “manufactured controvery” Super Bowl advertising, a strategy designed to create a pre-game-day brouhaha to gain more news coverage of its advertising before the game than during the game. For a decade, the company would create several commercials that it knew would not be allowed by the NFL or TV network and then post the “banned” commercials on YouTube.

But in preparation for going public, in 2012, the company underwent a multi-year, make-over that included re-tooling its services to develop a complete line of digital marketing services, aimed primarily at small businesses. And with the new product, came a new approach to its Super Bowl ad last year: a commercial starring a small business owner who was launching her business during the game. (It also ran an ad featuring long-time spokesperson Danica Patrick).

You probably don’t remember that ad, do you? (We covered it here.)

Because the new, non-controversial ad landed so flatly, this year, the company apparently turned over its ad creation to a committee who:

  • Had never stepped foot into a small business
  • Was encouraged to make small business owners and anyone who loves puppies hate GoDaddy

Returning to its “manufactured controversy” roots (the company is denying this was their intention, but their Super Bowl advertising  history provides no “benefit-of-the-doubt” wriggle room on this front), GoDaddy pre-released a Super Bowl commercial that is a spot-on parody of the famous Budweiser puppy ad. But lost in the humor, duh, is their decision to personify their customer as a heartless creep who runs a puppy mill. Not since Groupon ran a Super Bowl that used human rights abuses in Tibet as a comic hook, has a marketer to small business so demonstrated such a misunderstanding who its audience is.

Here’s the commercial:

Within hours of releasing the ad, the CEO (who is supposed to be the guy who is cleaning up Godaddy’s image) was blogging mea culpas and whimpering harder than a weaning puppy.

The ad has been pulled but a replacement hasn’t been released. GoDaddy says the new ad will be funny. We’re wondering if they mean funny ha-ha, or funny because it mocks another type of small business owner.

GoDaddy 2: A winner

All is forgiven, GoDaddy. A spot-on spot.