Danica Patrick is still Go Daddy's girl, though she may not be featured in the company's Super Bowl spots for the first time since 2007.
Go Daddy on Thursday announced it had signed New York agency Deutsch Inc. to produce its two 30-second Super Bowl spots, the first time the website domain provider has gone outside for the ads it has done itself since 2005.
Go Daddy also went outside for the first time in company history when it used Deutsch on an ad campaign that debuted during the Olympics.
"We got some good data concepts for the Olympics beyond what is on air now, and we wanted to expand our relationship," Barb Rechterman, chief marketing officer, told The Associated Press on Thursday.
But the hiring of Deutsch has created speculation that Go Daddy is trying to cut down on its use of Patrick, who has been featured in the Super Bowl spots since partnering with the company in 2007. Patrick's 10 Super Bowl ads are more than any other celebrity, and she's done 22 commercials for Go Daddy since 2007.
"We love Danica, our relationship is perfectly fine," Rechterman said. "Danica, for us, is a valued asset and we have her for the foreseeable future. We are very excited for her upcoming first full season in the Sprint Cup Series, and Go Daddy is looking forward to many more years together with her."
Go Daddy first signed with Patrick as an associate sponsor in IndyCar, then stepped up as a primary sponsor in 2010. The company sponsored her IndyCar effort that year as well as a partial NASCAR schedule, and this year has sponsored both the full Nationwide Series schedule and a limited Sprint Cup schedule.
Go Daddy has committed to sponsor the Cup schedule next season, when Patrick moves up to NASCAR's top level on a full-time basis.
And, Rechterman said Go Daddy is interested in discussing opportunities with Patrick for the Indianapolis 500 next season. Patrick has said she'd like to run that race if she can partner with a team that gives her a chance to win.
"Danica has had unprecedented exposure in NASCAR, through NASCAR, and she's just getting bigger," Rechterman said.
But Rechterman doesn't know if that means Patrick will kick off the year with a spot in the Super Bowl, which is Feb. 3 in New Orleans.
An online ad meter conducted by USA TODAY and Facebook after last year's Super Bowl rated the two Go Daddy spots 52nd and 55th out of 55 commercials, with the spot of Patrick looking sexy on a heavenly cloud ranking last among consumers. Although Rechterman didn't discuss last year's ads, which had a similar theme of sex appeal as most previous Go Daddy ads, the CMO did say of Deutsch "hopefully they give us something fresh."
She also said Patrick fits Go Daddy's marketing campaign.
"Our goal is to redefine sexy as basically ambitious people, driven people," she said. "That was the goal with this, and we wanted to get some new creative ideas around it. Danica fits that bill."
Patrick, in her second day of testing Thursday at Kansas Speedway, said she wants to be in the Super Bowl spots but understands it's not her decision.
"I've always enjoyed being part of Go Daddy's Super Bowl commercials and I hope that I'm involved again this year," she told AP. "Obviously with an outside agency producing the commercials for the first time, there's a chance that I won't be in the spots. I'd like to be in the commercials but if not, that's OK.
"The racing program is unaffected and Go Daddy is going to give me great support as they have for several years. We've got a multi-year commitment from Go Daddy for the future and I couldn't be happier about that. The Go Daddy sponsorship program is one of the strongest primary sponsorships to come in the Sprint Cup Series and it's great for me and great for the sport."
It's possible this is much ado about nothing, and that Go Daddy used Thursday's announcement to create interest in Patrick's potential involvement. But Rechterman insisted no decision had been made.
"At this juncture, I haven't seen any of the creative (from Deutsch) so it's kind of hard for us to say," Rechterman said. "But we are not going to not do commercials without Danica next year. Our commitment to her racing team speaks volumes to how committed we are to her."