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Chris Cardell

Any press is good press: GoDaddy

During March, GoDaddy CEO Bob Parsons went on safari in Africa where he shot an elephant and recorded the expedition as a promotional video for GoDaddy. Since Parsons posted the video, it has received an incredible amount of bad press.

The video is a strange-mix, the closing third of the video is backed by AC/DC’s “Hell’s Bells” while it shows villagers butchering the elephant for an excessive amount of time, occasionally zooming in on villagers wearing GoDaddy merchandise. It left me with the feeling that it’s all a big excuse for Bob Parsons to hunt an elephant and snap some trophy pictures while trying to make it look like an humanitarian expedition.

Bob Parsons posted his side,

“I spend a few weeks in Zimbabwe each year helping the farmers deal with problem elephants. The people there have very little, many die each year from starvation and one of the problems they have is the elephants, of which there are thousands and thousands, that trash many of their fields destroying the crops. The tribal authorities request that I and others like me, patrol the fields before and during the harvest — we can’t cover them all, there are just a few of us — and drive the elephant from the fields. The farmers try to run the elephants away by cracking whips, beating drums and lighting fires. All of this is ignored by the elephants. When my team catch elephants in a field (there are never just one) we typically kill one of them and the rest leave for good. After we kill an elephant the people butcher the elephant and it feeds a number of villages. These people have literally nothing and when an elephant is killed it’s a big event for them, they are going to be able to eat some protein. This is no different than you or I eating beef. If at all possible we avoid elephant cows and only kill mature bulls. By just killing bulls it has no effect on the elephant social structure (as it is matriarchal) as well as the herd size. The reason is another bull quickly steps up and breeds in place of the bull taken.”

There isn’t any argument that the video is distasteful (see video below), but then GoDaddy has never tried to be tasteful. They’re known for advertising using scantily clad women and “pushing the boundaries” with their Super Bowl ads. There has been a huge amount of discussion over the hunting side Bob Parson’s “Vacation Video”. I don’t really know if his actions are despicable or not regarding the hunting-side (this is a tech blog) and I don’t think there’s much argument that the villagers are in need of nutrition. It’s just that he’s shamelessly using the people and video as a promotion tool.

This story has been covered by Good.is, The Huffington Post, International Business Times, Business Insider, MSNBC, The Next Web, ABC and a number of smaller websites (including this one). The Huffington Post article alone has receieved 1,500 user comments and has been shared or liked on Facebook 5,000 times. The video itself has been viewed half a million times. This is all since yesterday. Good press or not, only a limited number of people will leave GoDaddy based on the actions of its CEO.

@jjprojects posted a heavily retweeted tweet,

“On what planet did GoDaddy CEO Parsons think him elephant hunting was going to be okay with people?”

I don’t know Bob Parsons, but I’m fairly sure he would’ve at least realised the video would be controversial. Which makes me think that Bob Parsons is a firm believer that any press is good press. Otherwise he might just be delusional, believing he would been lauded a “humanitarian”.

Some reader’s may find the video distressing.

PETA has launched a campaign asking users to email Bob Parsons and close their account. Namecheap is currently running a deal for a limited time,

“Show your protest by saying BYEBYEGD again and transfer your domains to Namecheap for $4.99 for the next 24 hours through 11:59pm EST on 3/31/11 (limit 10 per user, valid for all com/net/org domains): Update: This coupon has been extended and will run through 11:59pm EST on 4/1/11.

On top of that, we’ll donate $1 for each transfer to Save The Elephants at http://www.savetheelephants.org/

This entry was posted on Friday, April 1st, 2011 at 2:20 pm GMT. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.



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