In true GoDaddy fashion, the web-domain company sparked outrage with the pre-release of its Super Bowl commercial, which showed a lost puppy finding its way home only to be sold online. Less than 24-hours later, the company decided not to air the commercial during the Big Game, raising the question of whether it was all a PR stunt.
But a GoDaddy spokeswoman denied it was a stunt and said the company is now working on new creative to air during the Super Bowl.
Readers polled by Ad Age are almost evenly split on whether or not they believe the whole thing was planned, with 53% saying it was a stunt and 47% saying GoDaddy was caught off guard by the outrage.
GoDaddy said the dog seller featured in the commercial, Gabby's Goldens, is not a real business. There is a website with that name hosted by GoDaddy, gabbysgoldens.org, that is rife with typos and with no available web archives. The company said, however, "that site is not one we built or condone."
According to one ad agency executive not affiliated with the campaign, it's likely GoDaddy and its agency, Barton F.
"If you look at the pattern of past GoDaddy work in the Super Bowl they always use some kind of culture shock to garner attention. In past year's they got slammed a bit for being too much about sex," the ad agency executive said. "Personally as someone who loves dogs, I was shocked. That is why I said yesterday I was ashamed to be in this industry."
Barton F. Graf 9000 declined to comment on the campaign.
HIstorically GoDaddy has been known for its raunchy and risqué ads that feature sexual innuendos. But the company revamped its strategy for the 2014 Super Bowl, instead focusing on women-owned businesses and highlighting what GoDaddy offers as a company.
In a blog post on Tuesday evening, GoDaddy CEO Blake Irving said the company intends to continue with this marketing strategy.
"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," he wrote. "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."