There are countless blogs and messages right now encouraging brands, a.k.a big companies to jump on the band wagon and purchase their .sucks domain name. Why? Well, if you are a Marketer, the obvious reason is to get it before someone else snaps it up and uses it to “dis” your brand. After all, if your brand is, McDonalds, would you really want someone using www.McDonalds.sucks? Or, www.McDonaldsFood.sucks?
On the surface it makes complete sense to buy the domain name. After all, most brands have bought .com, .ca, .net. org, etc. etc. So of course brands should buy .sucks and for that matter you might want to look at .porn…#justsaying.
The issue I have with this however, is not the purchase of the domain name. No, it is much bigger than that. My issue is around what looks and feels more like a shakedown, or the holding of a domain name for ransom. It just feels opportunistic. Vox Populi Registry, the organization that has the rights to administer the domain names will be putting the new domain up for grabs very shortly. It will be open first to companies with their names trademarked. Sounds good right? Sounds like the right thing to do, right? Wrong. They are charging these companies $2500/year for the domain name. We all know how much domain names cost; and they are no where near this amount. On the high end you might be talking $75/year. So, this in actuality, sucks!
I heard an interview yesterday with Vox Populi CEO John Berard and was really quite amused to hear his defence. His take on this? That they are providing a service. That companies should embrace the .sucks domain and use it to help customers, etc. have an open and honest dialogue. Ya, right! As a Marketer and Communications Practitioner, I actually do believe in open and honest dialogue, but I would never suggest that a brand have a .sucks domain to accomplish this. There are many, many other proven ways to successfully do this! Companies will feel “compelled”, which really means forced, to buy the .sucks domain. This is not so bad for huge brands, but it will certainly be a financial burden for smaller brands. And don’t think that those who buy them are doing so to use them. No, they will be buried and not easily found. No marketing person is going to want a .sucks domain used!
And, what happens if you don’t buy the right to your domain name for this insane yearly fee? Well, it will become available for anyone to buy…at..a…wait for it…..substantially lower amount…a normal amount! So, trolls for example, or competitors could buy the domain and potentially use it maliciously. Does this make sense to you?
Finally, what really intrigues me about this whole process was one of the final questions of the interview. It was a question that I couldn’t help thinking about and hoping it would be asked. And, it was! The question: Will Vox Populi, or those associated with you, use the .sucks domain for your brand? Of course I am paraphrasing, but the answer was telling. Berard responded saying that they could hold up to 100 names for their own purposes and that they would likely look at doing so. But it remained unclear if they will actually make their own .sucks domain live and easy to find so that their customers can have an open and honest dialogue on voxpuli.sucks. His answer did not leave me feeling like they would. So, in the words of Alanis Morissette, isn’t it ironic, don’t you think?
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