During last year’s Super Bowl, fans fell in love with a certain Budweiser commercial more than they fell in love with the game.
The commercial showed a special love between a puppy and a Clydesdale horse and captured everyone’s hearts. So much so that it was one of the most watched and talked about commercials of the year with over 55 million views on YouTube.
So no one can really blame GoDaddy for trying to capitalize on the fame of the commercial by putting together a well-intentioned spoof.
The problem? It failed. Miserably.
The result is a mean-spirited and sad story that had animal rights activists up in arms until GoDaddy agreed to pull the ad from the Super Bowl lineup.
In the ad, called “Journey Home,” a little Golden Retriever puppy named Buddy travels through rough roads, over train tracks and through rain storms to get back home to his bright red barn after falling out of the bed of a truck. When he finally arrives, a blond woman is so happy to see Buddy returned. But not because she loves the puppy, “because I just sold you on this website I made with GoDaddy,” she tells him.
In the final moments of the commercial, Buddy is loaded back into a car and shipped off yet again, this time with GoDaddy spokeswoman, Danica Patrick, in the driver’s seat. The door of the car slams shut and the puppy is shipped out with a final whimper.
Steffen Baldwin, president and CEO of the Animal Cruelty Task Force of Ohio, easily sums up the problem with the ad in the Huffington Post, “Every year animals are euthanized across America, over 7 million each year because lifetime commitments are seen as disposable commodities, able to be bought, traded and sold like an Xbox.
“The callous, careless and disposable way these animals are portrayed in the GoDaddy commercials shows everything that’s wrong with the puppy industry in less than 60 seconds and minus the rows and rows of stacked cages on top of stacked cages and breeding dogs that are unable to walk on grass after living a life in a crate being bred until they no longer serve a useful purpose to the owner.”
Pair those words with the trending social media hashtag #NoDaddy and Change.org’s fastest growing petition ever — 1,000 new signatures per hour, according to the site — and GoDaddy pulled the ad from the Super Bowl lineup with an apology.
In a statement titled, “We’re Listening, Message Received,” GoDaddy CEO, Blake Irving, recognized the problems with the ad. “At the end of the day, our purpose at GoDaddy is to help small business 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 hear that loud and clear.”
It’s a sort-of apology, I guess.
In fact, GoDaddy is quickly doing everything they can to erase the commercial from the face of the internet. They even made the commercial private on YouTube.
In better news, those who have seen the ad and felt bad for the poor pup in the video can rest assured he has a good home. Following his spot in the commercial, the little guy was adopted by one of the longtime employees at GoDaddy.
Still, this ad points, yet again, to the larger problem with Super Bowl commercials going too far. It isn’t even the Super Bowl yet and already we’ve seen women objectified to the fullest degree and puppies mistreated with callous practices used as humor. Maybe it’s a sign that while we love our Super Bowl commercials, we also love them when they have a decent spirit at their core.