• Lessons from GoDaddy's SuperBowl Controversy

godaddy puppy

GoDaddy is in the dog house over a SuperBowl commercial. The epic marketing flop caused outrage among animal lovers after GoDaddy released their planned SuperBowl XLIX “Journey Home” television commercial on a popular morning talk show yesterday.

godaddy puppy

The commercial was a riff of Budweiser’s “Puppy Love” SuperBowl XLVIII commercial (included in our 2014 Viral Marketing Roundup). The GoDaddy commercial shows a puppy that falls out of a truck and is separated from his family. He journeys through harsh weather and long roads back to the farm where he was born into the arm of a woman who tells him:

“I’m so glad you made it home… because I just sold you on this website I built with GoDaddy.com.”

The woman is presumably an irresponsible backyard breeder selling puppies on the internet with a website built with GoDaddy. While this isn’t the first of GoDaddy’s edgy commercials, this one garnered unprecedented attention. GoDaddy was met with backlash from PETA and animal supporters across the country for the insensitive nature of the commercial.

GoDaddy’s Facebook and Twitter feeds were inundated with negative feedback from the public, many of whom have rescued and adopted abused animals. A Change.org petition with over 40,000 signatures prompted GoDaddy to responded. Blake Irving, CEO of GoDaddy,  released a statement that the company would not play the commercial during the SuperBowl, stating:

“At the end of the day, our purpose at GoDaddy is to help small businesses around the world build a successful online presence. We hoped our ad would increase awareness of that cause. However, we underestimated the emotional response. And we heard that loud and clear.

The net result? We are pulling the ad from the Super Bowl. You’ll still see us in the Big Game this year, and we hope it makes you laugh.”

GoDaddy is generally a great company but clearly missed the mark on an attempt to be funny.  Once a small business, it has grown into an affordable online company selling domains to many small businesses. Despite reassurances that an employee adopted the puppy and he is living a great life as the company’s Chief Companion Officer, GoDaddy was at risk of losing customers.

GoDaddy’s choice to air this commercial was a marketing decision that caused a negative impact on their reputation.  Thankfully, they apologized and reacted appropriately – which is the best way to respond to negative feedback.

godaddy superbowl commercial

GoDaddy’s marketing flop is a good lesson for all businesses regardless of size, but especially small businesses. If a big player like GoDaddy could lose customers so quickly over a commercial, something similar could ruin a small business. In marketing, it’s important to practice good etiquette or you may find yourself in the doghouse.

Image credit: US News

ThriveHive combines easy-to-use tools and expert guidance to help businesses stand out and get found online. Learn more about our guided marketing and advertising solutions here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *