Go Daddy's Puppy Commercial is Fine

If I spent $4 million to show a 30-second commercial, which is what a bunch of companies will do this Sunday (there’s a game that day, in case you hadn’t heard), I’d want to make sure that my commercial made an impact.

I’d want people at home to go silent as they watched my message on screen. I’d want them to dream about it at night. I’d want them to talk about it at work the next day. I’d want them to go to that crazy Super Bowl commercial website and watch it a million times.

But what I’d want most of all is for some group to protest the commercial so my company’s name, and maybe even the commercial, appeared on every newscast in the country for a few days.

Smart thinkin’ Go Daddy. Very smart.

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In case you missed it, the web hosting company Go Daddy posted their Super Bowl commercial online and made some people angry. And as a general rule, nothing attracts more news coverage than angry people.

The commercial starts with some puppies in the back of a pickup truck. Oops! The truck hits a bump and one of the puppies flies out of the back of the truck and into the grass. Worry not though, this is a hearty little guy. After a brief whimper, he takes off running after the truck. He crosses some train tracks, runs along side a busy road, and takes shelter at night during a rainstorm.

And then the little guy’s persistence pays off! We cut to a shot of an idyllic farmhouse and watch as the puppy runs into the barn, barking, tail wagging, and jumps up to greet a woman.

The woman says, “I’m so glad you made it home…because I just sold you on this website I built with Go Daddy.” Cut to the puppy in a cardboard box in the back of a van (at least they learned their lesson about the pickup truck), and the woman says, “Ship ‘em out,” as we see Go Daddy spokesperson Danica Patrick as the van driver for a split second before the door closes.

Animal rights supporters didn’t like the commercial. They argue that Go Daddy was promoting puppy mills by showing a commercial in which a puppy is sold online.

This seemed like a stretch to me, but then I realized I didn’t really know what a puppy mill is. So I did some research on the ASPCA website. I discovered that puppies from puppy mills are frequently ill or diseased, perpetuate hereditary defects, lack socialization, and are sometimes kept in cramped crates, with barely enough room to turn around.

Well that sounds horrible.

However, it also doesn’t sound like what’s happening in the Go Daddy commercial.

The dog wasn’t in a crate. He was in a box. Had he been in a crate he wouldn’t have fallen out of the back of the truck.

If he was ill or diseased he did a great job of hiding it since he ran so far and overcame so many obstacles. Maybe his genes are messed up, but my ability to analyze doggy DNA from a television commercial just isn’t what it used to be.

He didn’t seem shy, fearful, or anxious as he greeted his owner in the barn.

In fact, the only sign that he might have come from a puppy mill is that he was sold over the internet.

Now I like dogs as much as the next guy. And I think puppy mills suck. Dogs should be treated well and cared for and given enough room and all of the other dog-ish things that dogs need. But to criticize Go Daddy for supporting puppy mills because of this commercial forces the viewers to make a lot of assumptions.

Isn’t it possible that the puppy fell out of the back of the truck when it was being transported from a purebred dog show where it just won first prize? Maybe one of the judges in attendance liked it so much they bought it and paid for it online.

Does that seem far-fetched? Maybe, but no more far-fetched than assuming that the puppy came from a puppy mill, or that by showing such a commercial Go Daddy is promoting puppy mills.

McDonald’s and Carl’s Jr. will air commercials during the Super Bowl. Can we expect objections to the treatment of the cows in those commercials that appear as ground pieces of meat?

How about the Budweiser commercial from last year that obviously promoted keeping puppies away from their friends and allowing horses to run in the middle of the street?

Does the Stanley Steemer commercial that shows a dog dragging its butt across the carpet endorse ignoring your dog’s anal gland compaction problem?

My point is, Go Daddy is in the web hosting business. They’re not in the puppy mill business. To accuse them of supporting puppy mills because they show someone selling a healthy puppy on the internet trivializes actual animal rights concerns.

Plus, I suspect Go Daddy thinks they got their $4 million worth.

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