NEW YORK (Reuters) - GoDaddy, the company that provides website domain names, took a page from reality TV on Sunday night, and aired a commercial in which a 36-year old engineer quit her job in front of more than 100 million viewers tuning into the Super Bowl.
The spot starred movie actor John Turturro who introduces Gwen Dean from Yonkers, New York, who Turturro said wanted to pursue her dream of puppetry.
"I quit, Ted," Dean said in the 30-second spot, addressing her boss while mouthing the words with a blue furry hand puppet surrounded in a room full of puppets. "Ciao baby!"
Dean's audience likely tops those of others in recent years who have taken the public route of ditching their jobs, including a former Goldman Sachs salesman who stunned the investment bank world with a scathing public resignation in The New York Times and the enterprising young woman who posted to YouTube a video of her dancing her departure from an animation company.
"I'm thrilled to be moving to a new and exciting phase where I am listening to my inner-cheerleader - I am absolutely ready to do my own thing and be my own boss," Dean said in a statement from GoDaddy.
Dean was narrowed from a list of 100 people who wanted to quit their jobs after GoDaddy put out a blind ad calling for participants willing to publicly end their careers. Ad agency Deutsch NY produced the spot.
The concept is a complete departure for GoDaddy, which has famously aired bawdy commercials with scantily clad women for the past decade during the most-watched TV event in the United States. Its commercial in last year's Super Bowl featured Israeli supermodel Bar Refaeli passionately kissing a geeky extra.
"GoDaddy has finally grown up," said Jim Elliott, chief creative officer at ad agency Y&R. "They are not going for the low-hanging fruit of potty humor, or T&A.
"People quitting live during the game is a poignant idea," he said.
Dean does not identify her company or the full name of her boss in the commercial. GoDaddy said in a statement that Dean intends to email a formal resignation to her boss.
Super Bowl ads currently cost about $4 million for a 30-second spot.
The Seattle Seahawks beat the Denver Broncos 43-8 in the game.
(This version of the story was corrected in paragraph 6 to show GoDaddy narrowed from a list of 100, not 100,000 people)
Reporting by Jennifer Saba in New York; Edited by Ronald Grover