The response was immediate and negative.
— Aracely Vega Worley (@daytrippingmom) January 27, 2015
Initial protests focused on the need to adopt pets from shelters and the horrors of puppy mills. Reputable breeders do not sell online.
My initial horror was different.
It centered on the content of the ad.
- Putting dogs in the back of a truck so that they will slide around is not humane or safe. And where I live (and a handful of other states), it’s illegal. As it is in California, where the commercial was shot.
- If a puppy were to be tossed out the back of a truck like Buddy was in the commercial, the puppy would likely be hurt.
- The woman representing GoDaddy’s small business customer sold Buddy when she didn’t know where he was! (“I’m so glad you made it home. Because I just sold you on this website I built with GoDaddy.”) Can we say “unethical” and “breeder without a conscience”?
Moreover, according to GoDaddy statements, the company reached out through digital social networks to find a name for the puppy. But Buddy is the name of the puppy in the 2014 Budweiser SuperBowl commercial. That ad also featured rural life, a puppy returning “home” and a good ole farming stereotype, the red barn. Plus, Budweiser is featuring a puppy again in 2015. There are no coincidences.
Although CEO Blake Irving announced on Twitter that the company would pull the ad, the website’s news release section hadn’t caught on as of midnight Tuesday. His statement is on the blog; good luck finding it from the home page.
So maybe GoDaddy felt an ad about an ill-treated puppy simply wouldn’t cut the mustard. Or maybe – just maybe – it’s maximizing a media that has fully embraced positing and airing Super Bowl ad teasers as newsworthy, rather than what the acts really are – pretenses for free publicity. If this is indeed a childish ploy, it shouldn’t necessarily be rewarded with attention or applause.
Another says the GoDaddy snafu looks like “a skillful marketing play, rather than an actual misstep“.
[T]here’s the rapid-yet-polished nature of Irving’s response, which not only manages to incorporate a plug about how GoDaddy’s purpose is to champion small businesses, but also includes the touching detail that Buddy, the dog featured in the commercial, is “now part of the GoDaddy family as our Chief Companion Officer.” (Buddy even has a Twitter account.)
Have to burst Ms. Laura Entis’ bubble: GoDaddy made that announcement on January 14. And the Twitter account? Set up January 12. Both logical marketing moves as part of pre-SuperBowl activity.
Just setting up my Twitter. *ruff!* #myfirstTweet
— Buddy (@GoDaddyBuddy) January 13, 2015
As much as I dislike GoDaddy as a company, I prefer to think charitably about former Microsoft exec Blake Irving, who is now GoDaddy’s CEO, rather than impugn his behavior via unsubstantiated speculation.
Maybe, just maybe, GoDaddy management actually listened to stock PR counsel regarding crisis communication. You know, anticipate what can go wrong — before it does — and prepare responses while not facing the pressure of the clock ticking away in Internet time.
But where is their advertising agency, Barton F. Graf 9000 (@BartonFGraf9000)? That account exec and creative team should be getting a virtual tongue lashing every bit as robust as that directed at GoDaddy.
Their last tweet, made Tuesday morning, was a retweet.
Nothing new, move along.
I was stunned at how media framed this company’s history of demeaning advertisements. I shouldn’t be — it means that their PR folks did a damn good job of getting “reporters” to regurgitate corporate talking points.
Fun tweak of Budweiser. ~ Tim Nudd, AdWeek
The sub-head suggests someone at AdWeek has a warped sense of humor. Like GoDaddy.
Pokes fun? Dear Ms. Grossman: satire and parody are hard. This ain’t it.
Previously known for its risqué spots involving women in various stages of comic undress, the domain name registration company has had a change of approach lately. ~ Ben Popken, Today.com
Comic undress? What’s funny about scantily clad women prancing about in a 30-second commercial?
GoDaddy has developed a reputation for Super Bowl commercials that toe the line for what is and what isn’t politically correct. ~ Adam Stites, SBNation.com
Politically correct? The ads have historically been demeaning to women. That’s not politically correct. It’s sexist.
GoDaddy — which prides itself in being sexy, edgy, and an inch away from crossing the line — has bought a Super Bowl spot every year since 2005… In 2006, ABC rejected GoDaddy’s commercials 13 times before approving one.
The company’s first SuperBowl commercial that ran in 2005 “spoofed” the Janet Jackson “wardrobe malfunction” of the prior year’s game. See a sampling from the intervening eight years.
Some people – and organizations – show maturity after a 10-year period.
And some don’t.
— jennifer b. jacobs (@JenniferBJacobs) January 27, 2015
If you must watch …
- Updated to add video links
- Updated to add AdWeek sub-head
- Re-ordered, pulled GoDaddy response into its own section and added observation about crisis communication prep
- Removed reference to Host Gator’s opportunistic tweet/promotion.