GoDaddy pulls Super Bowl ad: Even a puppy isn't a sure thing

GoDaddy's newest commercial produced an animals rights uproar, while Budweiser's continuing the story of puppy-Clydesdale friendship may yet win the Super Bowl ad war this year.

YouTube/GoDaddy screengrab

When it comes to heart-wrenching Super Bowl animal commercials, Budweiser knows exactly what to do. The same can not be said for everyone else. An uproar over a GoDaddy’s puppy Super Bowl advertisement   prompted it to be pulled before the big game even started.

The website-production company GoDaddy decided to cut their commercial from the Super Bowl lineup and delete it from YouTube after being accused of condoning the sale of dogs online. The commercial featured a dog getting lost and finding its way home, only to be sold to a new owner through a GoDaddy website. The intent was to produce a satire, a humorous spoof on the latest sentimental Budweiser ad. 

But animal-rights activists were not amused. Following the release of the commercial, viewers quickly pointed out that dogs purchased online often come from puppy mills and the owners they are sold to are frequently not prepared for the responsibility.

More than 40,000 people signed a petition on after the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) called out GoDaddy on Twitter for producing a commercial in such poor taste. GoDaddy CEO Blake Irving quickly apologized and agreed to pull the commercial.

On the other hand, Budweiser debuted the third installment of its award winning puppy-Clydesdale friendship Super Bowl commercials with overwhelmingly positive results.

The beer company's newest ad returns to the all-American ranch of previous Super Bowl ads, but this time the puppy has run away. The rancher is grieving and the puppy faces numerous obstacles on its way home before the Clydesdales rescue the puppy –  and canine, master, and horses are reunited. The whole tale is set to a cover of the Proclaimers’ “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles).”

“We’re focused more maybe on the puppy than in the past,” director Jake Scott told TODAY. “Telling the story through the puppy’s eyes.”

Over the years Budweiser has used several animals in its advertisements, puppies, frogs, and, of course, its signature horses.

An old British tabloid newspaper adage says that readers respond positively to the three Bs: beasties, babies, and bikinis – and Super Bowl advertisers often employ those appeals as well.

But after a trying season for the moral integrity of the NFL, some of the sponsors are apparently supporting the league's image makeover efforts by making this year’s Super Bowl commercials more wholesome. Perhaps, that was GoDaddy’s rationale for switching from bikinis to beasties.

But clearly there is more to creating appealing advertisements than just the three Bs, namely tact. 

“We underestimated the emotional response. And we heard that loud and clear” said Irving said in a statement. “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.”

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to

QR Code to GoDaddy pulls Super Bowl ad: Even a puppy isn't a sure thing
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today