GoDaddy Pulls Puppy Super Bowl Ad After Backlash Over Puppy Mill Humor
Published on January 28, 2015
GoDaddy is known for pushing the envelope in its Super Bowl commercials, but when it previewed an ad featuring a puppy Tuesday, it sparked a swift backlash from animal lovers — and the company pulled the spot.
In the 30-second ad, which has been removed from YouTube, a Golden Retriever puppy falls out of the back of a pickup truck. He survives a storm and crosses a perilous bridge to find his way back to his owner’s loving arms. But when he arrives, she says, “Look, it’s Buddy! I’m so glad you made it home — because I just sold you on this website I built with GoDaddy!”
She then calls “Ship ’em out!” as he’s loaded into a van with the logo “Gabby’s Goldens,” driven by NASCAR’s Danica Patrick.
The ad seemed to attempt to satirize the much-loved 2014 Budweiser commercial, “Puppy Love,” and the sequel airing this year called “Lost Dog,” reports AdWeek. But few saw any humor in it, and critics said it looked like GoDaddy, a website hosting company, was supporting — and laughing at — puppy mills.
Animal advocates took to social media using the hashtag #godaddypuppy to call the company out, and a change.org petition to pull the ad gained 42,000 signatures before the spot was removed.
The SPCA, which uses the Twitter handle @animalrescuers, tweeted several times about the ad Tuesday, including, “If you can buy a puppy online and have it shipped to you the next day, it’s likely you’re supporting inhumane breeding. #godaddypuppy”
By late Tuesday afternoon, GoDaddy CEO Blake Irving responded to that tweet, writing, “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.”
In a longer blog post titled “We’re Listening, Message Received,” Irving wrote, “We underestimated the emotional response [to the ad]. 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.”
He also said that Buddy, the puppy in the commercial, came from a “reputable and loving breeder in California” and lives permanently with a longtime GoDaddy employee.
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