Everybody loves a good puppy commercial — they’ve pretty much become a staple as far as Super Bowl ads go. Last year’s Budweiser commercial, “Puppy Love,” was a huge hit, and the beer co. is following it up this year with even more cuteness in “Lost Dog.” So surely hopping aboard the puppy train can only be a good thing, right? Wellllllll, not when you’re GoDaddy.com.
In an effort to playfully mock Budweiser’s puppy antics, GoDaddy took things too far and steered the car in the completely wrong direction. Their ad, “Journey Home,” depicts a small golden retriever puppy, Buddy, traveling with his owners in the back of a pickup truck. As the car hits a bump, Buddy is flung out of the car as his owners drive away.
In true Homeward Bound fashion, Buddy goes on an adventure and ends up arriving back on his owner’s doorstep. She picks him up, overjoyed — not because her beloved pet has returned to her, but because she had already sold him on her GoDaddy.com website. It’s actually totally crushing. Woof.
Almost immediately, the commercial received backlash on Twitter, from animal rights organizations, through petitions, and via individuals. The message from naysayers was clear: mistreated animals are nothing to joke about and this commercial (likely unintentionally) looked like it was promoting puppy mills.
PETA put it the most succinctly, saying, “The sale of animals online and from pet stores and breeders should be roundly condemned.”
Here’s the ad:
By Tuesday afternoon, GoDaddy.com CEO Blake Irving responded by tweeting, “What should have been a fun and funny ad clearly missed the mark and we will not air it.”
He followed this up with a post on his blog:
He goes on to assure us that Buddy himself was obtained through a reputable breeder and that, in fact, he now lives with one of the company’s longtime employees.
The public’s response? For the most part, apology accepted. Comments on the blog post are generally expressing thanks for their decision to pull the ad, with one commenter writing, “thank you for pulling your ad; thank you for listening!” and another adding, “In future it might be wiser to help promote responsible ownership and to get your next family member from a reputable breeder, rescue or shelter.”
Now that sounds like an ad we’d watch!