*Hey, humans might still need a little work when it comes to taking care of each other, but mess with our animal kingdom, and you’re in trouble. The Big Daddy of website hosting, GoDaddy.com, found this out the hard way when they put up their big Super Bowl ad today to test the waters. After much ado about something from animal rights groups and dog lovers they’ve vowed not to air the ad during the big game on Sunday.
The ad, “Journey Home,” mocked Budweiser’s highly anticipated “Lost Dog” Super Bowl ad that the beer label has been teasing — which, in turn, is a sequel to its wildly popular 2014 Super Bowl ad “Puppy Love.”
In GoDaddy’s ad, an adorable golden retriever puppy named Buddy is traveling with his mom and sibling in a box in the back of a pickup truck, when the truck hits a bump and he’s tossed out. Buddy goes through quite a lot to make his way back to his home, where he’s scooped up by his human guardian who is thrilled he made it back to them — because she’d already sold him on her new GoDaddy.com website.
Faster than you can say, “WTF,” the ad’s YouTube clip had more than 800 comments, most trashing it; #godaddypuppy became a thing on Twitter, a Change.org petition had been launched calling on the company to kill the ad, and more than 42,000 sigs collected. Animal rescue orgs expressed contempt. Ditto PETA, which admitted it “liked” that the ad showed that anyone who sells dogs online is “a callous jerk.” “The sale of animals online and from pet stores and breeders should be roundly condemned,” the group said.
Reporters who had first found the ad funny, back-peddled in their follow-up posts. AdWeek had initially called it a “fun tweak” of Budweiser, turned it around as “amusingly deflat(es) Bud’s balls a little bit” and asked the ad creator, in an interview published before the spot was unveiled, to promise it would not be “as sappy of an ending as Budweiser.” (The creator had noted, ominously, that the ad would be “playing with Super Bowl cliches” and “there seem to be five puppy ads every year, so we’re going to hang out and play in that area.”)
This afternoon, GoDaddy CEO Blake Irving realized defeat and threw in the towel saying,
Thank you @animalrescuers for the candid feedback. What should have been a fun and funny ad clearly missed the mark and we will not air it.
— Blake Irving (@Blakei) January 27, 2015
Later in the day, Irving elaborated in a post on the company’s website headlined “We’re Listening, Message Received”
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.
Watch the GoDaddy ad that was pulled directly below.