GoDaddy CEO kills elephant and shoots company reputation in the foot

There have been calls to boycott domain registrar after CEO Bob Parsons proudly posted a video blog late last week of himself killing an African elephant. The note under the video states: “Each year I go to Zimbabwe and hunt problem elephant. It’s one of the most beneficial and rewarding things I do.”

The video (WARNING! Graphic Content: CLICK HERE) quickly went viral with around 600 000 views in two days and soon had animal welfare activists releasing the fury of caps lock in the comments section of the video, as well as spreading the video on social networking platforms. Never slow to seize a ripe promotional platform animal rights group People for the Ethnical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is now championing the cause for a boycott as well as nominating Parsons as the “Scummiest CEO of the Year”.

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“PETA is closing its account with Go Daddy and urges everyone to follow suit,” said PETA on their website. The Twitterverse and Blogosphere are rallying to support the cause and many are already claiming to have moved their business to competitors., demonstrating remarkable marketing creativity and agility, was quick to exploit this ‘Achilles heel’ in their competitor and immediately started offering a reduced fee with coupon code “BYEBYEGD” as well as donating 20% of each transfer to SaveTheElephants.Org.

PETA has further logically suggested that Parsons “use his wealth to fund humane solutions to human/elephant conflicts.” To which the multi-billionaire Parsons responds saying that “no amount of money I could contribute would make much of a difference.” Parsons said in an interview with AOL Small Business that “because of all this stuff [the controversy], you’re going to have more people aware of GoDaddy and our business is going to go up.”

Parsons chose AC/DC’s “Hell’s Bells” as the backing soundtrack for the video, as well as providing the villagers — who swooped in soon after the kill to butcher the elephant — with GoDaddy branded caps.

According to AOL News, Johnny Rodrigues, chairman of the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force, reacted to Parsons’ claims that he is doing a humanitarian service by stating: “I’ve seen so many of the atrocities against elephants and other wildlife here that it sickens me to the bottom of my soul, but I have read what Parsons said, and he is totally misinformed about what is going on here. I wish he knew the truth.”

The controversy creates an interesting case study on drawing the line between personal and professional life. Parsons has always blurred that line and this may prove to be detrimental to the company’s reputation in general. Parsons and GoDaddy have always courted controversy with their lads-style advertising featuring scantily clad women, but is filming the CEO proudly shooting an elephant going a step too far? Or is it a case of any publicity is good publicity?

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