Just hours after GoDaddy released its Super Bowl spot on the "Today" show, a commercial depicting a puppy being sold online, the company said it won't air it after all.
"The responses were emotional and direct. Many people urged us not to run the ad," CEO Blake Irving wrote in a blog post.
GoDaddy is pulling the ad from the Super Bowl and will replace it with a spot Mr. Irving said he hopes will make viewers laugh. The company also pulled the video down from YouTube.
The original ad shows the puppy, Buddy, fall off a truck and trying to find his way home. He crosses train tracks, highways and travels in the rain. When he gets home his owners are relieved -- because they already sold him on a website they built with GoDaddy.
The spot pokes fun at the use of puppies in Super Bowl commercials, and comes as Budweiser plans to air a commercial about a lost puppy during the big game.
GoDaddy has been working to remake its marketing image. The 11-time Super Bowl advertiser has historically been known for its risqué and raunchy ads. Toning down the sex, however, doesn't seem to prevent controversy -- or free publicity.
"We've made a tremendous amount of progress over the past two years, advancing the GoDaddy brand as a company that cares a great deal about small business and is in their corner to help them succeed," Mr. Irving wrote in the blog post. "People increasingly know who we are, what we do and who we do it for. At the end of the day, our 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."
Mr. Irving also reassured that Buddy came to GoDaddy from "a reputable and loving breeder in California," and has become a member of the company as the "chief companion officer."