Jacques Mattheij

technology, coding and business

How to Damage Your Brand in One Smooth Shot - Way to GoDaddy

Apologies for the tone of this piece but I’m pretty angry right now.

GoDaddy’s CEO, Bob Parsons, went out of his way to do his bit for the community. He traveled all the way across the world to Zimbabwe to rid a local village of a troublesome elephant, and got the locals to slaughter the animal wearing GoDaddy hats. Way to go, what a great guy.

There isn’t a snowballs’ chance in hell that this whole thing was scripted from the start, of course. The camera crew just happened to be there just in time to capture the great hero do that which the villagers could have never done themselves. What with the gun and ammunition shortage in Zimbabwe and all that. But, fortunately, there is Bob Parsons carried by wings whose fuel consumption alone could have probably fed that village for a year or more.

Yes, that’s sarcasm. It stems from watching the following video, which is not for the faint of heart:


Maybe I’m just stupid and doing Parsons’ bidding by showing you this video, after all video.me is a service offered by GoDaddy, but on the off chance that there is such a thing as bad advertising, and that people really are capable of thinking for themselves, let’s make sure that GoDaddy loses at least as many customers over this as they gain.

You have to wonder what idiocy powers such behavior. Big game hunters will go to any amount of trouble to be allowed to go after species that are illegal to hunt because of their protected status. And if these animals were so much trouble to the local population, the person to make the kill should have been a Zimbabwean game warden, not some big shot (pun intended) American tycoon. The reason why is easy to understand. If we allow rich people to hunt protected species under the guise of game control, there is an immediate opportunity to mark more animals than needed as ‘problematic’ or ‘diseased’ than is really the case, and that would cloud the issue considerably.

By making the game wardens solely responsible for the actual kills, you take away that possibility, and so, the number of kills will be limited to those that are really necessary. Killing elephants is a control measure of last resort. As soon as game becomes a trophy, and there is money involved, there will be more kills than required.

Cementing the gore in the video above, the terms slaughter, GoDaddy, and the GoDaddy logo together, in the minds of people all over the world was a PR blunder of the highest caliber. As a CEO you always speak for the company, even when you’re on a holiday, and when you hand out corporate merchandise that changes what could be construed as a private affair into a corporate PR exercise.

It’s a good thing that I have all my domains with another registrar, or I’d be forced to move them. GoDaddy is pretty dumb to associate their brand with something like this. By extension, they’re associating all their customers with this, as well. You have to wonder if you want to be seen as the supporter of the company whose insecure CEO does stuff like this for a hobby. Helping a village didn’t come into it, I can’t imagine the villagers of that particular village calling up Bob Parsons and asking him for help, so it boggles the mind that he would think that this is something the general public would believe.

The people that are enslaved to that other idiot that has a film crew following him to document his life have no choice about their lot, but those that are GoDaddys’ customers can, and, apparently, do chose in fairly large numbers to vote with their feet, if twitter is to be believed. Maybe there is such a thing as bad publicity after all. Suggested alternatives? Moniker.com (now owned by oversee), gandi.net, and namecheap.com.

Next time GoDaddy wants to do something for Africa regarding elephants, or feeding starving villages, I’d suggest a contribution to a relocation program, using some of the GoDaddy cash reserves to pay for food for a village that apparently is on the edge of starvation, or to donate generously to an irrigation project, increasing the amount of arable land, which would go a long way towards mitigating the humans/elephant conflict. Of course, that would not be as sexy, and it would not quite make you look as manly.

But it would be far more effective than pretending to be helpful, when, in reality, this was obviously about creating another photo op for an overinflated ego.

Mixing your corporation into a volatile subject like this is usually controversial, at best. In this case, it is simply stupid. There is no way to explain all this in a way that makes GoDaddy and its CEO look good, and plenty of ways to interpret it as bad.

The control of problematic elephants is a sensitive subject, it will need a lot of money and a balanced viewpoint to come to a solution.

Flying in affluent CEOs to shoot members of a protected species is not going to help in reaching a fair compromise, taking into account the rights of all the parties involved, the villagers, the institutions tasked with protecting the animals, and, of course, the animals themselves.

Way to GoDaddy.

Handy guide on how to transfer your domains here. It’s a little bit specific to dnsimple, but 99% of it works with other registrars.