Danica Patrick and GoDaddy shared a wild ride, teaming up over several years for some memorable Super Bowl commercials as the auto racing driver and Web domain giant helped build each other's brands.
While that relationship could continue through a personal-services contract, GoDaddy said in April it would no longer serve as Patrick's primary Nascar sponsor. Today, Nature's Bakery, a provider of snacks and food aimed at health-conscious consumers, emerged as GoDaddy's replacement.
Though most terms of the multiyear deal, which goes into effect in 2016, were not disclosed, we're told that the Nature's Bakery slogan—"Energy for Life's Great Journeys"—will be emblazoned on the No. 10 Chevrolet SS that Patrick drives for the Stewart-Haas Racing team for 28 Sprint Cup competitions every year. (SHR also extended Patrick's contract beyond this season. Had no primary sponsor been found, she might have had to seek employment with a different team.)
"Losing GoDaddy as my primary sponsor after six years wasn't easy, but those changes are a reality in this sport," Patrick wrote in a piece published today in the Players' Tribune. "This experience certainly wasn't something unique to me—more or less every racer, regardless of their success, is forced to look for a sponsor at some point—but it did make me realize how truly fortunate I've been for so many years."
Nature's Bakery executives said Patrick's healthy lifestyle and dedication to physical fitness made her a good choice. What's more, her tenacious desire to win jibes with the values of the family-run company, which was launched five years ago during the dark days of the recession. Now, the client is banking on her broad appeal, which transcends racing, to raise the brand to the next level.
"We see endless opportunities for this partnership," Andrew Strolin, vp of marketing at Nature's Bakery, told Adweek. "We want to really collaborate and get her input. She's already come up with some really exciting ideas." At present, specific plans are in flux as the company reviews creative and media agencies with an eye toward launching a campaign next year.
"Having their support means so much because anyone familiar with this sport knows that landing sponsorship isn't easy these days," Patrick wrote in her Players' Tribune piece. "It's difficult for any driver to find a primary sponsor that wants to take on that financial commitment. That's part of what made the last few months so scary. Getting the honor of being behind the wheel on race day requires a lot of work from the team, and a large investment from a sponsor."
Strolin said he wouldn't rule out TV spots starring Patrick, and he might even consider making a Super Bowl play of some sort, depending on the strategy the brand, its new star and eventual agency partners devise.
Patrick, of course, is no stranger to the big game's marketing melee. Her best-known Super Bowl spots for GoDaddy run the gamut from salaciously amusing to so-bad-it's-good. Here are some selections:
In 2008, Patrick appeared in a Web-only ad that GoDaddy promoted during the Big Game, which supposedly wouldn't run the original because of a (rather tame) "beaver shot:"
In 2009, Patrick made her first on-air Super Bowl ad appearance for GoDaddy. In the spot, she testifies about, um, "enhancement" before a congressional committee. The spot was determined by Tivo to be the most watched of the game:
In this 2010 spot, Patrick got a massage from a super-fan but still couldn't relax—for good reason, it seems, as the commercial finished dead last (out of 63) in USA Today's Super Bowl Ad Meter:
When GoDaddy decided to move away from sexy models, Patrick got mega-buff in 2014 and ran with a pack of burly weight lifters:
While "rejected" Super Bowl ads were long a PR tactic used by GoDaddy, Danica's final ad with the brand was cut from TV by GoDaddy itself. This year's spot featuring a cute puppy and a cameo from Patrick, was released in advance, but GoDaddy pulled the ad before the game due to criticisms from animal adoption advocates.