co GoDaddy: Good Marketing Or Reputation Problem? |

GoDaddy has been the center of controversy before. Their Super Bowl commercials with scantily clad women have upset some people despite the Web hosts increasing business as a result of the advertising. But recently, the company has taken controversy to a new level. Bob Parsons, GoDaddy’s CEO, filmed himself shooting an elephant in Africa and posted the video online. Was that a good move?

Believe it or not, Parsons is defending it. Here’s his defense:

“Most Americans understand that people need to eat,” he says.

Are you wowed?

Parsons so believes in his mission of killing elephants that he is on the prowl for interviews just so he can defend his actions, but those actions have a lot of people “up in arms” if you’ll pardon the pun. PETA, the very visible animal rights group, has pulled its websites from GoDaddy as have several other animal rights groups and even many people who are not associated with animal rights.

So here’s the question: Would any amount of reputation management help GoDaddy at this point? Did Bob Parsons screw up badly or can he convince people that his concern for farmers in Africa is genuine and that his desire to help them by killing the elephants was necessary?

The lesson to learn from all this is this: If you are going to step into controversy deliberately, be sure to count the cost. This kind of “charity” is going to make you enemies. If you can live with that, go with it. If not, you’d better think twice about what it is you do and what it is you allow the world to see you do.