Decision to Pull Super Bowl Ad Reflects Newer, Softer Side of GoDaddy

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GoDaddy has reacted to the outcry over its Super Bowl commercial by pulling the advertisement from Sunday’s big game.

The ad, featuring an adorable puppy named Buddy who is sold online via a GoDaddy-built website, garnered a strong reaction from animal rights advocates. Critics said the advertisement promoted puppy mills – commercial dog breeding facilities that place “profit over the well-being” of dogs, according to a definition on the ASPCA website.

On Tuesday evening, shortly after the WHIR published an article on the controversial commercial, GoDaddy announced its decision not to air the ad.

In a blog post, GoDaddy CEO Blake Irving, who joined the company in January 2013, called the responses to the ad “emotional and direct” and implied that it was detrimental to the new GoDaddy brand.

“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,” Irving said. “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.”

Irving also provided reassurance that Buddy was adopted from a “reputable and loving breeder in California” and lives permanently with one of the company’s long-time employees.

GoDaddy still plans to run an ad this Sunday. It will be the 11th consecutive year that GoDaddy has advertised in the Super Bowl.

Prior to Irving, GoDaddy may have decided to run the ad despite the negative feedback. The company was unapologetic under its founder Bob Parsons, a larger-than-life personality not afraid to ruffle feathers. The company ran several Super Bowl campaigns that ticked plenty of people off, and some even barely passed the standards and practices divisions of several major television networks including NBC, FOX, CBS and ABC.

In 2013, Irving said the company’s Super Bowl commercials would take a different direction than in years past and be more inclusive to its customer base, which at the time was 48 percent women.

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  1. Mike Frisco

    I thought the commercial was funny and I was hugely disappointed in GoDaddy for backing down. If you've got a vision, stick with it. Don't let a vocal minority bully you into taking down a campaign. Spineless.