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“Puppy Mill” Humor Not So Funny: How GoDaddy Avoided a PR Nightmare

GoDaddy Puppy Ad

Almost immediately after releasing its 2015 Super Bowl ad online, GoDaddy was criticized for its poor taste in a heartless commercial about selling a puppy online. The 30-second ad focused on a golden retriever puppy finding its way home after falling out of a truck. After making it back home, the puppy discovers that its owner had used GoDaddy to set up a website that let her sell the dog to a new owner. The commercial had dog advocates from all over the world gathering together to bring awareness to the inhumane practice of “puppy mills.”

What easily could have been a looming crisis for GoDaddy was quickly suppressed by the company. Fast reaction to the overwhelmingly negative comments, GoDaddy’s CEO, Blake Irving addressed critics on Twitter apologizing for their insensitivity and promised to not air the commercial on Super Bowl Sunday. Subsequently, the company removed the YouTube video of the ad. GoDaddy has confirmed that they will be airing a different humorous commercial during the telecast. After being heavily condemned for their encouragement of buying puppies online, GoDaddy tweeted in support of animal adoption. In a statement released directly to Adweek, PETA Director, Colleen O’Brien said, “GoDaddy did the right thing by swiftly promoting adoption.”

What does GoDaddy’s mishap mean for PR? It proves the importance of crisis communications. GoDaddy correctly identified the steps they needed to take in order to not further damage its company’s reputation. This can be seen in their responsiveness and honest dialogue with the public. Furthermore, GoDaddy demonstrated tremendous leadership by admitting their mistake and committing themselves to being more socially sensitive.

To view GoDaddy’s ad, check out:

Super Bowl viewers can only hope that the rest of game day’s commercials will be touchdowns.