A ton of noise was made this week when Bob Parsons, the CEO of GoDaddy, (www.godaddy.com), the Internet domain company, uploaded a video of himself shooting and killing an elephant in Zimbabwe; posing over the dead beast in the process. In light of the recent incident and slew of negative backlash, PETA and others have instituted a boycott against the company.
This isn’t the company’s first controversy though. GoDaddy’s commercials have been banned from TV on numerous occasions for being too racy. They have used Hooters type women as objects in marketing campaigns, and its one of the reasons they have captured, according to multiple sources, 32% market share.
All press is not good press. In general, I don’t subscribe to the theory “If they read your name it’s a good thing.” If you think that’s the case, ask Toyota if the media about the recall helped them, ask Lindsay Lohan if being arrested every 10 minutes has been good for her acting career, or speak to anyone who’s had negative media what so ever. Press can be very harmful, and it’s not always a good thing. That being said, it’s something that at times could be used to a companies’ benefit. However, a company needs to know where they stand on the totem pole.
CEO’s are personalities and reflections of their company. Although Mr. Parsons said his hunting expedition had nothing to do with GoDaddy, he said he didn’t think the video would affect his company’s business. His video also received comments of support. The era of privacy is over. CEO’s of companies small and large are reflections of their business, and anything they do is reflected back on their business. We are all in the Public Relations business these days – everyone who uploads a video to YouTube, posts pictures to Facebook, or tweets. People are seeing what you say and it reflects on your company, and you, for better or for worse.
Involvement in politics of any sort, including hunting, says something to consumers, good or bad. Simply be aware these actions will reflect on your company. It could attract many and it could also turn off many.
Know it before you engage in it.
Companies don’t need 51% market share, or approval to succeed. Parsons has built a ton of attention from controversy – albeit without spending what he would without it. Controversy has brought him a lot of attention and he may know things we truly don’t. If for example he’s aware many of his consumers are conservatives, who are in favour of hunting, or men who don’t mind raunchy ads and are huge purchasers of domain names. If that’s the case, then who cares what the public says. At the end of the day, he wins and it benefits him.
As an example, in my business, many love us and think we are brilliant, and some don’t, and we are fine with it. If my PR agency can capture even 10% of the funds spent on Public Relations in the US, then we are thrilled and it’s all good. Many will approve, some wont, but only politicians need 51% to win.
What do I think of all of this? Americans are forgetful, and forgiving, and this too shall pass. Parsons has said the elephant he killed helps local farmers by stopping them from destroying crops, and that the entire village makes use of the entire kill, feeding the village for weeks on the crops savings and the elephant meat. He will continue with this line, which will convince many, and he knew what he was doing. He enjoys living on the edge and has built a great business and great brand doing so, and will continue winning. This will be a minor deterrence that will pass, and Godaddy.com will keep laughing (and shooting) all the way to the bank.
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