GoDaddy, the website design company known for its controversial Super Bowl ads, has cancelled its latest Super Bowl commercial after attracting criticism for making light of puppy mills.
The 11-time Super Bowl advertiser's latest 30-second spot featured an adorable lost puppy who (spoiler alert) finds his way home, only to be sold via an online website the seller built using GoDaddy. Because dogs purchased from online sellers frequently come from puppy mills, GoDaddy started receiving complaints within hours of releasing the ad on Tuesday's Today Show.
CEO Blake Irving addressed the issue head on in a blog post, writing:
"[O]ur 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. 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."
While GoDaddy is no stranger to receiving criticism for its Super Bowl commercials, the company previously stirred up controversy for its racy, oversexualized ads, including one spot featuring an attractive woman having a "wardrobe malfunction" during a press conference. In 2013, the company gave its marketing approach a makeover, shifting its focus from brand awareness to emphasizing what the company does and who its customers are, chief marketing officer Barb Rechterman recently told Inc.
"Do females find this style of advertising better? I'm sure they do," she said. "That doesn't mean that I feel the prior advertising was wrong for the brand awareness campaign we had at the time."
Instead of focusing on brand awareness, GoDaddy wants its ads to highlight how the company helps small business owners, according to Rechterman.
This year's commercial was created by ad agency Barton F. Graf 9000. The question on everybody's mind now is, what will GoDaddy's Plan B look like?