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 Change.org 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.”

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