|Internet domain company GoDaddy has crossed the fine line between “funny” and “offensive” with a preview of its featured commercial.GoDaddy is no stranger to controversial Super Bowl ads; in the past, the company got attention by featuring scantily clad supermodels in its commercials. This year, GoDaddy decided to take a different route in its Super Bowl marketing strategy. Rather than objectifying women, it created a parody of Budweiser’s “Best Buds” ad campaign.
After Budweiser announced in late 2014 that “Best Buds” would feature yet another painfully adorable puppy (due to the massive success of the puppy-Clydesdale combo in its 2014 Super Bowl ad), GoDaddy decided to hop on the puppy train with its own commercial.
There was so much public outcry against the company that it decided to pull the ad altogether within just hours of releasing the video online as a preview.
So what was the big deal?
Both companies went with the “lost puppy” theme — but with two very different endings. While Budweiser’s commercial features a happy puppy-person-Clydesdale reunion, GoDaddy’s puppy returns to its owner, who is overjoyed to see the tattered pup because she had just sold him on a website she created (using GoDaddy’s domain services, of course).
It didn’t take long for animal rights groups to pick up on one small and unfortunate connection: that owners of illegal puppy mills are usually the ones operating independent websites where abused animals are sold.
Perhaps GoDaddy’s marketing team simply missed this one detail, or perhaps it thought that its mockery of Budweiser would be funny enough to compensate for the crass topic.
Jennifer Escalas, a professor of marketing at Vanderbilt University, explained GoDaddy’s current problem quite well: “I think that [GoDaddy is] finally figuring out that a significant portion of their target market is actually women.”
Although GoDaddy certainly got increased media attention because of the ad (causing some people to wonder whether it was intentional), it seems that the attention probably wasn’t worth the negative impact on GoDaddy’s brand.
GoDaddy certainly isn’t the first company to have made a major advertising blunder at the one time when Americans actually want to watch commercials, and the controversy may blow over soon and be forgotten, as many other failed ads do. But then again, it’s possible that this commercial was the final straw on GoDaddy’s pile of insensitive and confusing branding strategies.