Here’s the latest update on the year’s big Super Bowl ad scandal: GoDaddy told both AdAge and fellow trade pub PR Week last night that the kerfuffle surrounding its quickly retracted Barton F. Graf 9000 “puppy mill” campaign was completely unexpected and that the campaign was NOT a stunt designed to attract maximum media attention.
For the record, most readers of our sister site PRNewser remain convinced that the whole thing was planned…and a majority of those responding to our Twitter feed, as well as just over half of readers who voted in an online AdAge poll, feel the same way. As one tweeter put it, “client claiming ‘not a PR stunt’ is the most classic of PR stunts.”
The company seemed to offer conflicting statements yesterday: at first, reps implied that a second spot from BFG starring longtime spokesperson Danica Patrick (who recently plugged Coca-Cola for Wieden+Kennedy) was ready to air in place of the puppy…but statements to the trade pubs last night indicated that there’s still creative work to be done.
Over the past 24 hours, our contacts offered varied interpretations of the story: one calls it “a campaign turned into a stunt” while another theorizes that the client’s statements about misjudging the public reaction are honest…and too cynical by half. If that’s true, then the Danica Patrick ad that will run during the game may well have been created to serve as the second chapter in the new campaign.
On the PR side, general consensus holds that, if the events really did take the company by surprise, then at least they’ve done a good job in the cleanup aisle.
The client’s shift to BFG last year marked the second time GoDaddy has hired a new agency to “refresh” its image. While the new ad eschewed the casual sexism that usually wins the brand so much (negative) press attention, another contact told us that both client and agency seem to have forgotten that puppies — for whatever reason — are sacred figures in American pop culture.
Budweiser and Anomaly just proved that point.
What do we think? (Barton F. Graf 9000 wisely deferred to the client in every case.)