What I learned from that gross GoDaddy ad
It’s been more than a day since I projectile vomited everywhere after watching the Super Bowl GoDaddy ad. And to make sure there wasn’t a trace of food in my stomach, CBS aired it immediately after the game, as well.
Didn’t watch the game? Looking for a new diet technique? Here you go. But don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Creepy was the best word for this ad. Stomach-churning was another good word. But when I thought about it, the word successful came to mind, too. In a Super Bowl that featured a power outage, a 108-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, a great comeback, questionable officiating, and Phil Simms not calling his best game, people talked about the GoDaddy ad.
This is not a column glorifying gratuitous GoDaddyness. There is, however, something to learn from that ad. Sometimes, in order to leave a lasting memory, you have to stand out above the crowd. And sometimes to do that, you have to shock people.
Most writers, most people, tend to want to get along. Conflict is something most people avoid. It’s easier to get to the end of the day without people glaring at you for something you said or did. But sometimes, in order to get the point across, it’s necessary to invite some conflict.
Schindler’s List, for instance, was a provocative movie. It’s been twenty years since its release and I can still see the naked prisoners in my mind’s eye. I can still see the kid hiding in the outhouse filth. I can still see the red jacket. Saving Private Ryan is another. A long time ago, I heard a radio interview with a D-Day survivor who said the bullets fell like rain in the beaches of Normandy. I didn’t really understand that comparison, until I saw the movie. Then I knew.
Any number of literary references come to mind, such as Rose of Sharon breastfeeding a starving man in The Grapes of Wrath.
While these scene are provocative–and not even a little gratuitous–they’re also unsettling. And the works in which they reside would be poorer without them.
So, when you write that scene that makes you cringe, don’t immediately take it out. Sometimes cringing is the best thing.