Since the word (or words) I want to use likely would block this column from more than a few corporate e-mail accounts, I will instead kick it off with “ass-hats” and hope for the best. I have no idea what an “ass-hat” actually might be, mind you. It’s a term that I believe was brought to life in one of those television writers’ rooms that produce so many strange words and phrases, the likes of which are never heard in real life.
Those writers may be out of touch with reality, but not nearly to the extent of the “ass-hats” responsible for “Journey Home,” the rightly maligned GoDaddy commercial about the imperiled puppy. At this point you have probably read a good deal about it. You have probably seen it, as well. I’m including the video (at the bottom of this column) for context, but I hope never to see the “danged” thing again (trying to avoid another filter issue there). I hope nobody else ever watches it again, either.
Here’s a little thought leadership for everyone involved. It comes from one of Ann Landers’ columns back in 1999. (Apologies; I do not know who first wrote this, but that person was uncommonly thoughtful and compassionate, much more than anyone who conceived or encouraged the making of “Journey Home.”)
“If you can start your day without caffeine,
If you can resist complaining and boring people with your troubles,
If you can eat the same food every day and be grateful for it,
If you can understand when your loved ones are too busy to give you any time,
If you can overlook it when something goes wrong through no fault of yours and those you love take it out on you,
If you can take criticism and blame without resentment,
If you can ignore a friend’s limited education and never correct him,
If you can resist treating a rich friend better than a poor friend,
If you can face the world without lies and deceit,
If you can conquer tension without medical help,
If you can relax without liquor,
If you can sleep without the aid of drugs,
If you can say honestly that deep in your heart you have no prejudice against creed, color, religion or politics,
Then, my friend, you are almost as good as your dog.”
The people involved in the making of “Journey Home” clearly have a long way to go before they are as good as anyone’s dog.
Perhaps I’m overreacting a bit to what has become known as The GoDaddy Puppy Controversy, but why not? It’s the season, isn’t it? This is the one week of the year – climaxing on Sunday during the Super Bowl – when television viewers who are fervently embracing DVRs, Netflix and Amazon as easy alternatives to having to watch anything with a commercial in it suddenly obsess about commercials. Why is that? Is it because they are told to do so? If commercials are so much fun to watch and rate and debate in the days leading up to the Super Bowl and can send waves of delight through millions of people during the big game itself why is it that they are no longer acceptable during the other 51 weeks of the year? If commercials aren’t popular that’s on the folks who make them, because fun, arousing, eye-catching, engaging ads can still win favor and influence people.
The toxic GoDaddy Puppy production, though, is none of the above. With repeated viewings it becomes an increasingly hateful thing, presenting the story of a puppy that just wants to be loved enduring all manner of hardships to return to its owner, only to be scooped up by a seemingly soulless woman and told that he has been sold online via a site she built with help from GoDaddy.
How many kinds of wrong can one ad be?
I don’t know what’s worse: The fact that a group of so-called intelligent, hard-working, well-compensated people at GoDaddy and the agency that conceived the ad, Barton F. Graf 9000, were so utterly lacking in humanity, compassion and respect that they thought it was a good idea, or the fact that they thought people would respond to it in a positive way.
Every year at least a couple of Super Bowl advertisers find exciting new (or tried-and-true) ways to offend millions of viewers, usually through the exploitation of females or the general presentation of males as something sub-human. The ogling of breasts and the smashing of testicles is usually all part of the fun. Many ads seem to assume a basic level of backwardness or a fundamental lack of mental and emotional development among sports fans. Somehow all of this is accepted and rewarded over and over again on television’s biggest night of the year.
Animal rights activists and animal rescue workers, heroic individuals who brave massive and massively cruel atrocities every day to help helpless dogs, cats and other animals, were quick and mighty in their righteous anger when “Journey Home” was first seen. Mercifully, GoDaddy pulled the spot, promising to whip up another in time for the game on Sunday.
At this point the only thing GoDaddy and BFG 9000 could do that might begin to feel appropriate would be to use their Super Bowl real estate to run a spot encouraging people to adopt animals from shelters rather than support the kind of heartless breeders depicted in “Journey Home.”
Better yet, GoDaddy should just go home.
Click on the image below to watch the video.
Ed Martin is the Editor of Planet Ed and MediaBizBloggers and the television and video critic for MyersBizNet. Follow him on Twitter at @PlanetEd.
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