GoDaddy’s Super Bowl Ad Draws a Penalty

Jonathan Bernstein crisis avoidance, crisis communications, crisis management, Crisis Prevention, crisis public relations, Crisis Response, Erik Bernstein, Jonathan Bernstein, public relations, reputation management Leave a Comment

Failing to anticipate public reaction is a costly oversight

Domain registrar and Web host GoDaddy has a history of questionable taste for its ad campaigns, and its latest addition, axed after uproar from stakeholders, looks to have been a costly mistake.

The ad, which features a lovable puppy making his way home through treacherous terrain, only to have his owner declare, “I’m so glad you made it home…because I just sold you on this website I built with GoDaddy!” ran this past Tuesday, and immediately drew massive amounts of criticism, many of which followed the tone of this tweet from the SPCA:

Following the emotionally charged response, GoDaddy pulled the ad, sharing the below message from CEO Blake Irving on its official blog:

This morning we previewed GoDaddy’s Super Bowl spot on a popular talk show, and shortly after a controversy started to swirl about Buddy, our puppy, being sold online. The responses were emotional and direct. Many people urged us not to run the ad.

We’ve made a tremendous amount of progress over the past two years, advancing the GoDaddy brand as a company that cares a great deal about small business and is in their corner to help them succeed. People increasingly know who we are, what we do and who we do it for. 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.

Finally, rest assured, Buddy came to us from a reputable and loving breeder in California. He’s now part of the GoDaddy family as our Chief Companion Officer and he lives permanently with one of our longtime employees.

This is yet another example of an organization spending good money to produce a campaign, including what was likely extensive planning to promote the commercial further during the big game itself, only to have it all wasted because of something that should have been obvious from the start.

If you’re not constantly asking two questions – “what could go wrong with this plan?” and “how could this offend people?” then you’re missing out on a vital part of crisis management, one that will save you time and money in the end.

The BCM Blogging Team

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