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GoDaddy pulls controversial Super Bowl commercial amid backlash (video)

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GoDaddy CEO Blake Irving on Tuesday night posted a statement on the company’s website announcing that it has pulled a controversial commercial it planned to air during Super Bowl XLIX due to a tremendous backlash that involved accusations that the ad promoted unethical animal breeding practices.

The commercial, entitled, “Journey Home,” tells the tale of “Buddy,” a Golden Retriever puppy who overcomes many obstacles to return home after falling out the back of a pickup truck.

Buddy had been adopted by frequent GoDaddy pitchwoman Danica Patrick, but after the pickup mishap, returns back to his farm home, only to learn that his original owner was only relieved to see him as she had sold him online.

Upon the promotion’s announcement on the “Today” morning show Tuesday, GoDaddy has come under fire, harshly criticized for endorsing so-called “puppy mills.”

Accusations of poor taste, at minimum, over the spot came from all corners of the Internet and was highlighted by condemnation from such influential organizations such as PETA and the SPCA.

The SPCA posted the below tweet along with several others that suggested more appropriate and humane pet-purchasing practices.

A Change.org petition was immediately started and at this time, had garnered over 42,000 supporters. The movement is labeled a “Confirmed Victory” in light of GoDaddy’s CEO announcing via the company’s official site that the ad has been pulled from it intended slot during the Super Bowl (via Business Insider).

This morning we previewed GoDaddy’s Super Bowl spot on a popular talk show, and shortly after a controversy started to swirl about Buddy, our puppy, being sold online. The responses were emotional and direct. Many people urged us not to run the ad.

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. 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.

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.

Finally, rest assured, Buddy came to us from a reputable and loving breeder in California. He’s now part of the GoDaddy family as ourChief Companion Officer and he lives permanently with one of our longtime employees.

All official traces of the commercial have been pulled from online circulation, specifically GoDaddy’s official YouTube channel. PETA applauded the company’s decision to pull the spot, with a spokesperson saying GoDaddy “did the right thing.

“The sale of animals online and from pet stores and breeders should be roundly condemned, and it was today,” said PETA senior director Colleen O’Brien, via For The Win. “GoDaddy did the right thing by swiftly promoting adoption. PETA’s message is that when you buy a dog from a pet store or a breeder, a dog in an animal shelter dies.”

Given that GoDaddy already had a backup commercial in the can suggests that it at least was cognizant that the spot may be greeted unfavorably. Some may even argue that the entire controversy was expected and the ultimate outcome was all part of the plan. GoDaddy is a veteran of the cutthroat, high-risk world of Super Bowl advertising and arguably is far too savvy not to have seen this coming.

In the end, as the old saying goes, “There is no such thing as bad publicity.” GoDaddy may have simply set up a trap and allowed everyone to angrily fall right into it as the company enjoys — and perhaps profits — from the attention.