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By now, the world has heard and seen the “humanitarian efforts” by the Go Daddy CEO, Bob Parsons, or at least that is how he is trying to frame it. Parsons has been videotaped on numerous accounts killing elephants in Zimbabwe and the Go Daddy brand is certainly
feeling the repercussions of his actions. Since the videos came to surface on Thursday with the help of PETA, they are enduring a storm of negative press and customer boycott.
Quickly, Go Daddy competitors have taken advantage of the situation by offering cheap domain names and donations to SaveTheElephants.com for those who switch over. However, Parsons seems unfazed. In a recent interview with CBSNews.com, Parsons said “he is doing great,” and that very few PETA members are “even our customers.”
This is every PR person’s worst nightmare. Not only does Parsons come off as arrogant and insensitive, his communication is abysmal at best. It is clear Parsons is not remorseful for his actions, but he does not take into account those customers that may still be offended by his actions. Go Daddy has certainly built a brand that pushes the envelope in its advertisements, but this is a whole new level.
I can’t image many PR pros are jumping at the opportunity to dig Go Daddy out of this mess, however if someone does I hope they educate Parsons on culturally competent communication and the basics of PR. Even though PETA may not have been a big client, other customers, stakeholders, and spokespeople for the brand may not share his views, destroying those relationships almost irrevocably.
These videos have landed Parsons the “Scummiest CEO of the Year Award,” beating out other CEO’s who would also deserve the award. It will be hard for Parsons and Go Daddy to bounce back after all the negative media coverage. Brands and people alike are defined by the strong relationships that they keep. The best brands have two common factors: a great leader and a great PR person. Right now, Go Daddy does not seem to have either.