Rhetorically speaking, that caricature of an alligator used by HostGator isn't really that awe-inspiring. Yet the gator (or possibly the success of the web hosting company that adopted it) has seemingly spawned a host of imitators over the years. Hawk Host, CrocWeb, Flipper Host, HostCats, HostTiger, and Hosting Lizard name just a few of the web hosting companies utilizing mascots of animal caricatures to market their brand.
Just how much does your average bird, crocodile, beaver or turtle know about web hosting? Using the same rationale, what does a clown, a king, or a girl with red ponytails know about hamburgers. Is McDonald's successful at providing the best burger on the planet, or is McDonald's simply successful at selling burgers?
While obviously we all borrow ideas, one web hosting company in particular has had few examples to draw inspiration from. Go-Daddy’s marketing model under Bob Parsons was as much reliant on the conversation that ensued around his tacky adverts, as the salacious adverts themselves. Parsons masterful ability to create buzz around his company, with even the most negative story, (think elephant), or even out of thin air, is unmatched by any company, in any industry.
In 2006 IndyCar driver Danica Patrick joined the "Go-Daddy Girl" lineup and began playing a prominent role in the company's commercials. While tech and web hosting companies like OLM.net may have ventured onto the track first, it was Go-Daddy entrance to the sport that couldn't be ignored. Not unlike the Hostgator mascot, many have followed suit.
M247 turn their hand to racing
Recently M247, a Manchester based web host and ICT company announced their sponsorship of Joe Girling, who will be driving for Tech-Speed and Finesse Motorsport and will be running under the banner of M247 Racing. Joe Girling will be competing for the Jack Sears trophy in the British Touring Car Championships 2013.
M247 Technical Director, Chris Byrd explains:
M247 operate some of the most technically advanced datacentres and networks in Europe, so it seemed appropriate for us to partner with an equally innovative and forward-thinking team. We wish Joe the best of luck for the season and we’re looking forward to seeing him in action.
SpamExperts sponsors Matt Wallis, CEO of UnitedHosting
While SpamExperts, a provider of professional email security products from Amsterdam, isn't exactly a web hosting company, it makes the list for its 2nd consecutive year of sponsoring the HotBadger team competing in the Toyota MR2 motor racing Championship.
HotBadger Motorsport driver Matt Wallis is the CEO of UK web host UnitedHosting, who along with his brother Simon Wallis are joining forces for their 2nd assault of the championship this year.The challenging Toyota MR Championship will start on March 23rd and run through famous UK circuits such as Donington Park, Brands Hatch and Silverstone. The spectacular ending is scheduled on Oct 26th with a dramatic 6-Hour Endurance Race at Silverstone.
Matt Wallis, CEO of UnitedHosting says:
We are very much looking forward to 2013 championship. Our performance in 2012 would not have been so amazing without the help of our sponsors. We are grateful to SpamExperts for backing us again in 2013. We can certainly say that their support is twofold: filtering our email and giving us peace of mind to concentrate on the race and actually sponsoring us in the championship (editor’s note... nice plug Matt)
Canadian web host BlackSun sponsored the Auto Clearing Motor Speedway ("ACMS") event known as the "BlackSun 150". ACMS is part of the NASCAR Canadian Tire racing series. The event located outside of Saskatoon features Pro Truck races, Mini series, and the 150 lap Super Late model race.
Steve Rogoschewsky, CEO of BlackSun Inc...
BlackSun has been apart of the association for over 10 years. Last year's event was a huge success. The BlackSun 150 was partly a tribute to our customers in Saskatchewan. We invited all of our clients to come out and meet our team in the VIP garage.
BlackSun also sponsored the Indy light series for a few years when Indy came to Canada, and we continued the sponsorship in the USA as well. James Hinchcliffe took us for the win more than a few times! Ironically, our efforts to compete with GoDaddy on a larger scale now has Hinchcliffe racing for Godaddy!
Lunarpages Internet Solutions has been a sponsor with the Hart and Huntington Premiere Motorsports Group Off Road Race Team in the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series for the past two seasons and will continue with the Team's Rob "Fig" Naughton, driving the Pro2 as well as Ryan Beat, who finished second in Pro Lite a year ago.
This year Lunarpages became a partner of Team Lucas and the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series for the 2013 season. Lunarpages Internet Solutions CEO George Natzic says:
We're excited to expand our involvement in the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series by joining Team Lucas and taking advantage of all it has to offer. It's a program that provides excellent exposure and hospitality opportunities.
Lunarpages Internet Solutions will distinguish its inaugural season with Team Lucas by awarding exciting prize packages to a trio of weekend events in the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series to contest winners who enter through a variety of web sites and social networks...
(editors note..these races are even more cool than Nascar.. where do I sign up!)
Lunarpages isn’t the only company awarding prize packages to the races. Last year VPS.net gave away a F1 Dream Vacation for two that included First Class airfare, four nights of 5 Star Hotel accommodations , limousine service and two VIP F1 Paddock Club passes to the United States Grand Prix.
David Heinemeier Hansson
While David Heinemeier Hansson isn't a web host, many web hosts and their clients are familiar with his work. The self described creator of Ruby on Rails, partner at 37signals, best-selling author, public speaker, hobbyist photographer, and family man is also a race car driver! (editor *shakes head*.. gee where does he find the time)
David Heinemeier Hansson says:
I'm competing in the World Endurance Championship for 2013 in the LMP2 class with OAK Racing. The season starts at Silverstone in April and includes the 24 hours of Le Mans in June. I'm racing together with Olivier Pla and Alex Brundle. It's going to be a tough season with 12 regular LMP2 competitors throughout and no less than 22(!) for Le Mans.
David started racing sportscars in the Cayman Interseries in 2009, moved to 911 GT3 Cup Cars at the end of 2010 (winning the gold class in his first race!), and then went all out in 2011 with races in GT3 Challenge, Radical Masters, ALMS GTC, Grand-Am ST, and ILMC (in Lotus below).
“That was all warm up for my break-out season in 2012. Together with Conquest Endurance, I competed in the American Le Mans Series with LMP2 class-wins at Mosport and Road America to finish second in the championship. That performance earned me SPEED's Rookie of the Year”, Heinemeier Hansson says.
While David McKendrick, CEO of Fused has his work cut out for him if he is to match Heinemeier Hansson resume, there is a whisper (and pictures) that suggest all of his energy isn’t devoted to keeping those web hosting clients happy. Word on the street is that Fused will soon be sponsoring it’s own CEO on a asphalt-eating speed rocket!
Back to where this started. HostGator has sponsored Joe Nemechek’s NEMCO Motorsports entries in a number of NASCAR Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series races.
Lance Custen, CEO of HostGator.com said,
We are excited and proud to become a part of NEMCO Motorsports and support a veteran driver like Joe. Many of our current customers and staff are huge fans of NASCAR, and we look forward to serving the many NASCAR Fans in the future. We (HostGator.com and Nemechek ) got our start in Florida, and we are happy to begin our sponsorship in Florida.
It would be silly to suggest web hosting companies adopt mascots or become involved in racing just because their counterparts in the industry have. As suggested by many of the spokespeople, and eloquently stated by Lance, many web hosting customers and staff are huge racing fans.
Notwithstanding Go Daddy does hosts 36 million sites — nearly 6% of the world's websites. HostGator hosts over 8 million domains, which makes up approximately 2% of the world’s Internet traffic. Whether they, like McDonald, are successful at providing the best burger on the planet, or just simply successful at selling the burgers maybe open to a subjective opinion. Either way, they are all doing something right.