Forget jumping the shark. Now, there’s shooting the elephant. And no, I’m not the first person to make that joke in light of the internet’s latest viral video sensation — GoDaddy CEO Bob Parsons shooting an innocent (depending on who you ask), adorable (depending on who you ask) elephant in Zimbabwe. As if their commercials weren’t offensive enough, this is probably the dumbest thing to come out of GoDaddy since they approved their navigation UI.
Not only did Parsons commit the cardinal sin of someone in the public eye – allowing a video to be shot of himself doing something controversial – but he then promoted the video on his own blog. Now, I know GoDaddy’s corporate self-image is somewhere between Nascar and those old Man Show sketches with the busty, bouncing bimbos (or so their commercials would have me believe) but even so, this stunt seems a little ill conceived to say the least. When your business relies on recruiting the broadest swath of people possible to use your services, creating something that so clearly crosses the line of bad taste (depending on who you ask) isn’t the brightest move. Posting it on the internet, for everyone to see and contextualize for themselves is even worse. Animal cruelty aside, this smacks of a man who was either hunting for cheap headlines or just doesn’t care what the web thinks of him – or of his company by extension. And that seems to me like bad news for GoDaddy either way.
Full disclosure: I own some domains through GoDaddy and although their site is the UI equivalent of a really bad migraine, and I find their advertising to be in worst taste than Bai Ling’s entire wardrobe put together, I have always found their services to be reasonably priced and well executed and their phone support to be top notch. Which makes this whole thing even worse to watch.