GoDaddy does like a good commercial that stirs up attention and controversy. The company consistently spend on ridiculous commercials that bear no relation to its actual website creation and management services, and instead try to wedge themselves in consumer minds simply by being extreme and memorable.
For what it's worth, GoDaddy accomplished that again with this year's commercial. But it was so audacious -- and, many would say, reprehensible -- that the company has been forced to pull the ad.
The original commercial, teased online ahead of the Super Bowl, also serves as a not-so-subtle jab at Budweiser, which experienced huge success with its puppy-centric ads the past two Super Bowls. GoDaddy's ad tells the story of a puppy named Buddy who falls off a moving farm truck and is separated from his family. Despite adverse weather and long distances, Buddy manages to make it back home.
When Buddy makes it back, his owner greets him with terrible news:
"I’m so glad you made it home… because I just sold you on this website I built with GoDaddy.com."
The commercial drew widespread outrage for promoting puppy milling and other irresponsible breeding practices. Eventually, GoDaddy was attacked by prominent voices including Leigh Anne Tuohy, portrayed by Sandra Bullock in "The Blind Side," as well as Kelsey Patterson, wife of TCU football coach Gary Patterson.
@LeighAnneTuohy Buddy has been adopted! A long-time GoDaddy employee has made Buddy part of his family. Buddy goes home with him each night.
— GoDaddy (@GoDaddy) January 27, 2015
— K.Patterson (@kels_patterson) January 27, 2015
Eventually, the criticisms became so loud that GoDaddy pulled the commercial from YouTube and announced that the commercial would not air during the Super Bowl.
"The responses [to the ad] were emotional and direct," said CEO Blake Irving. "Many people urged us not to run the ad…. 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's been adopted permanently by one of our longtime employees."
Good news, indeed, for Buddy, but Irving's apology sounds vaguely self-lauding where it should be contrite. GoDaddy appears all too eager to point out that it listened to the calls of the people, while glossing over its poor judgement.
Whether it was a PR stunt or a genuine lapse in thinking, it's hard to tell.
As for making us laugh, we've got news, GoDaddy: You're not as funny as you think.
Last year's Budweiser commercial, for context: