A rather sad story comes to us on the eve of the Superbowl and the attendant fascination with the commercials that run during the big game. The website developer GoDaddy was prepared to run a bit of a parody of the famous Budweiser ads with their story of a lost puppy who finds its way home. Touching, right? Except for one small problem… the dog who makes it home was set to be sold over a website hosted by GoDaddy. The usual list of suspects freaked out.
GoDaddy has decided to pull their ad from the Super Bowl and remove it from YouTube after causing an uproar on social media.
The company released their Super Bowl ad early, and it certainly has people talking– but they’re probably not saying things the company wants to hear. Thousands took to Twitter and Facebook to let the company know they’re outraged.
The commercial, titled “Journey Home,” features a cute puppy that’s been separated from its family on its journey home, but the ending is what’s causing the uproar, when you find out the owners are happy to see the puppy because they just sold it on a website built using GoDaddy.
A petition showed up online demanding that the ad be pulled.
As someone who feels incredibly strong about animal rights, I am extremely offended by this commercial. If you feel the same, let Go Daddy know by signing this petition, posting to their social media sites, and/or by creating a petition of your own. Whether or not this was meant to be satirical, it’s offensive. Essentially, Go Daddy is encouraging private breeding/puppy mills while shelter animals wait patiently for their forever homes or worse – to be euthanized. They are also encouraging purchasing an animal online; the animal could be sold to someone who runs a fighting ring, someone who abuses animals, or to someone who cannot adequately care for the animal. Animal rights are no laughing matter and to portray them as such is cruel and irresponsible.
The pressure was enough for the company to issue a nearly immediate mea culpa.
“This morning, we previewed GoDaddy’s Super Bowl spot on a popular talk show and shortly after, a controversy stated to swirl about Buddy, our puppy, being sold online,” the company said in a statement, USA Todayreported. “The responses were emotional and direct. Many people urged us not to run the ad. … The net result? We are pulling the ad from the Super Bowl.”
This is a tough subject for me, and one which runs smack into the intersection of a gut level emotional response and the realities of capitalism. As long time readers know, my wife and I have done extensive work helping out animal shelters (which is where we first met) and rescued quite a few animals. Our newest charge is a little dog named Fred who was abandoned by his owner because he was old and had medical issues, but he’s settled in nicely with us now. You’ve met other members of our little tribe in the past.
With that as background, my instinct is to wish for every animal in a shelter to find a home. It breaks my heart that there are so many animals waiting in shelters. But the reality is that no organization can make everyone run out and adopt an animal, particularly an older one who may have medical problems or other issues. There are many people who reasonably want a young, healthy animal who can grow up with their family and are willing to pay a premium for that. And since the demand exists, there are companies who will meet that demand and match young, healthy animals with new families. It’s not just cold hard capitalism, but also a service which meets a need for both the animals and the prospective adopting families.
Telling GoDaddy to pull their advertisement and swallow the loss of the money they invested in it is simply wrong. I’ve had questions for some time about the amount of money companies invest in Superbowl ads, but this was clearly a success story. I can’t imagine why Budweiser spends as much as they do on those ads. Who doesn’t already know about Budweiser? But GoDaddy was a relatively unknown entity before they sunk a huge investment in a Superbowl ad. They profited from taking that risk.
Now, if they want to advertise as one of the Big Boys, that is their call. And they were neither showing nor encouraging any sort of abuse of animals. It was a dog who found his way back to his current owners and then was going to go on to a new home. There was no crime taking place, no matter how much some of us might wish that home were filled with a shelter dog. The SPCA should be ashamed of going after GoDaddy like that.