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Shock Value

Can a controversial ad get customers to notice your great offer? It worked for this company.

This story appears in the August 2005 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Everyone remembers GoDaddy.com's Super Bowl ad: a buxom woman appeared before a panel in increasing stages of undress. Aghast, Fox yanked the company's ad before it could be aired a second time.

As sole owner of the discount domain-name registrar, Bob Parsons had shelled out the $5 million for the ads from his own wallet, so naturally, he was sore--at least until 2.6 million people shot to GoDaddy.com to watch the ad. Sales skyrocketed--from $102 million in 2004 to more than $200 million projected for 2005. "To grab consumers' attention, you have to polarize [them]," says Parsons, 55.

However, he adds that controversy can flop if the consumers so lured don't get a good deal when they arrive. The Scottsdale, Arizona, company sells domain names at a rock-bottom $8.95 per year, and unlimited customer service is free. "The idea is to make a little money from a lot of people," says Parsons. "[If] you get a good deal, you don't mind controversy."