by Carly Graman

Using a puppy in your marketing campaign isn’t a new idea. Budweiser and Doritos have used puppies in their commercials long before GoDaddy decided to join the party.

GoDaddy wanted to stray away from their racy commercials and take a different approach to their marketing strategy. There new commercial for Super Bowl XLIX would feature a puppy who got tossed out of a truck bed on accident and had to find his way back home. Upon returning home after a scary journey, his owner was thrilled to see him. However, she was only happy to see him because she had already sold him to a new owner. The ad aims to promote small, local online business. This particular commercial was promoting a dog breeder.

GoDaddy wanted to get a head start before their Super Bowl commercial was going to air. They started their campaign online on Feb. 1 to gain consumer interactions. They wanted their twitter followers to come up with a name for the puppy using the hashtag #GoDaddyPuppy. The name would be used in an ad shot that week.

The following week GoDaddy launched a website for the puppy promoting their company products. The puppy received its own Twitter handle. Danika Patrick’s GoDaddy twitter account gained 1.13 followers during previous Super Bowl ads. They were sure the puppy would create the same following.

GoDaddy made plans to set a social media command room during the Super Bowl. Writers and marketers would be listening and responding to any interactions during the game. They had pre-planned content and some content would just be on the fly. During the game last year they reach nearly 1 million on social media, so they were planning for another successful campaign. However, they didn’t even get to make it that far.

Within 24 hours of the early commercial release on YouTube, GoDaddy pulled the ad from the Super Bowl line up. The #GoDaddyPuppy hashtag immediately got a poor response. The SPCA tweeted using the hashtag and attacked the company for promoting animal cruelty and puppy mills.

Viewers were shocked at the emotional commercial. According to an Ad Age article, “53% of people thought the ad was stunt and 47% said GoDaddy was caught off guard by the outrage.”

GoDaddy is known for its raunchy and risqué ads. Consumers aren’t supposed when sexual innuendos appear in their commercials. Knowing this the brand aimed to revamp their marketing strategy and launch a new campaign with the puppy. They thought they were taking a different approach and creating a new image for themselves. GoDaddy miscalculated the reaction of the consumers.  GoDaddy’s CEO, Blake Irving even wrote in his blog that they underestimated the emotional response.

While the ad was a social fail and received a lot of backlash on twitter. GoDaddy is trying to ease the tension with their consumers. They have also adopted the puppy as their own. Concluding from the #GoDaddyPuppy that started before the commercial launched, the puppy was named Buddy. GoDaddy took action in trying to make everything right. They issued a press release on their website that Buddy was now going to become their company dog and gave him his own Twitter handle. You can follow Buddy on his account @GoDaddyBuddy. However the account is set to private, so hopefully they accept you! They have also implemented Pet Therapy rooms at three of their Arizona facilities to rid the animal cruelty image. GoDaddy is working hard at creating a better brand image and has taken down all Super Bowl commercials about Buddy.


Buddy has already been on set for future commercials with Danika Patrick and is ready for his next big debut!


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