By now, we’ve all seen the video of Bob Parsons, the outspoken CEO of domain registrar and hosting company, GoDaddy.com, speak out about his recent vacation to Zimbabwe in which he hunted and killed an elephant. Change.org got wind of the video that was posted to Parsons’ site and urged supporters to pull the plug on their business with GoDaddy. According the Change.org, the film titled Hunting Problem Elephant – My 2011 Vacation is “basically a gruesome, 4-minute elephant snuff film”.The blogosphere has exploded with comments on everything ranging from African village norms to wildlife support and corporate social responsibility. According to one blogger, a GoDaddy competitor has seen 20,000 websites move from GoDaddy to their hosting service which could mean millions of dollars per year depending on account size. If this is true, then his actions could have impacted the bottom line.The real question in all of this is whether or not this crisis has caused harm to the GoDaddy brand. The Editor in Chief of the CMO Site says, “I expect everybody involved in this controversy will score a marketing win.” The Network Solutions management team jumped on the controversy in order to wrangle a few new customers by providing a promo to new customers using the discount code “elephant”. More opportunity for brand exposure for Network Solutions and new customer revenue? Yes!Our wish as communicators is that Mr. Parsons had been somewhat more contrite about his actions. Regardless of the entrepreneurial attitude that’s built into the company, the actions of one person at the top can create harm to employees and public image. We’ve read his 16 rules and wish he had chosen to consider number 11 a little bit longer.
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