By JENNA FRYER, AP Auto Racing Writer

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Danica Patrick and GoDaddy have brought their relationship full circle to close her racing career.

GoDaddy has a new commercial that will air during Sunday’s season-opening Daytona 500 that showcases the growth of both the driver and the company that helped make Patrick one of the most famous female athletes in the world.

Patrick made 21 previous commercials for GoDaddy, some of which were racy and risque. She was placed in 13 Super Bowl commercials for GoDaddy, a number that still stands as the most Super Bowl spots for a celebrity.

But as Patrick’s career winds down with two final races, GoDaddy is now celebrating her transition to a businesswoman. The “Make Your Idea Real” ad is a bright, colorful look at Patrick’s shift from driver to entrepreneur . She is retiring after racing in the Daytona 500 and Indianapolis 500, and GoDaddy is sponsoring the effort.

“I’m leaving the track behind, but I’m not standing still. And with GoDaddy, I’ve made my ideas real,” Patrick says at the start of the spot.

The ad then shows her in various stages of her new businesses: exercising, at a book signing for her 90-day wellness guide, a photo shoot for her “Warrior” clothing line. All the scenes are in fun hues of green, pink, yellow and orange.

“I made my own way, now it’s time to make yours,” she tells viewers.

The ad is far different from anything the company has ever made with Patrick, and features her fully dressed in clothes she designed herself. It’s also extremely adult for GoDaddy, which had used a unique marketing plan in its early days that had many commercials end with the disclaimer, “Warning: web content is unrated.”

This new ad is definitely rated G.

“I feel like each time I watch it, it gets better and better and better,” Patrick told The Associated Press of the new spot. “It definitely has a lot of color and pop that draws your eye in, and as the commercial goes, it gets cuter and cuter. It obviously shows the other businesses that I have. It’s awesome because it’s a commercial for small businesses.”

Some of GoDaddy’s previous ads offended viewers and in 2015 the company had to pull its “Lost Puppy” ad with Patrick after the complaints from animal advocates. Patrick said one of her favorite GoDaddy ads was a push-to-web spot she shared with trainer Jillian Michaels in which viewers were led to believe the pitchwomen objected to risque outfits GoDaddy wanted them.

If viewers went to the company web site, they’d see the second part: the outfits are silly, but Patrick and Michaels were actually “objecting” to a dance in the ad.
“It’s not that it was about what we were going to wear — it’s about these outfits and this dumb dance,” Patrick said.

Some argue the spots helped expand Patrick’s brand by sexualizing her and using her appearance as a selling point. That sentiment is sometimes argued by Patrick’s detractors, who argue she had a strong marketing machine that didn’t match her on-track results.

Although Patrick has just one victory in IndyCar, she’s the highest-finishing female in the Daytona 500 and Indy 500, the only woman to lead laps in both events, the only woman to win a pole for a major NASCAR race and the only woman to win an IndyCar race.

Patrick pays no attention to any criticism of her career, particularly online, or debate over what role sexualizing her played in advancing her race car career.

“People have a really big voice when they don’t have a face. I’ve got 26 years of proof that I am a driver,” she said. “I don’t ever regret anything I’ve ever done.

Everybody grows up and evolves and GoDaddy has gone away from those kind of commercials and I’ve gone away from those kind of commercials.

“But there was nothing ever shown on TV that I was uncomfortable with.”

GoDaddy thinks its clean and modern spot is a perfect showcase for how far Patrick and the company have come. Patrick’s first GoDaddy commercial was in 2007.

“Anyone who knows Danica, or has watched her over her career, knows when she puts her mind to a goal, she usually finds a way to achieve it,” said GoDaddy chief marketing officer Barb Rechterman. “Our new GoDaddy commercial highlights Danica’s aspirations for life-after-racing, and how having a smart online presence helps her attain her goals.”
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More AP Auto Racing: https://racing.ap.org/

(Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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