Customers abandon GoDaddy after CEO posts elephant hunting video

GoDaddy

A video purported to show GoDaddy CEO Bob Parsons shooting an African Elephant is causing controversy for the Web hosting company on Thursday as outraged customers began pulling their domains from the company's hosting service.

The video, embedded below, is titled "Hunting Problem Elephant - My 2011 Vacation." It shows "one typical night and day" in Labola, Zimbabwe which culminates in a bull elephant being shot and eaten.

Of course, because the video is hosted on GoDaddy's own Video.me portal, and the company has a history of using low-brow marketing to raise brand awareness, the video's authenticity is highly suspect. It could be an intentionally controversial video posted strictly for marketing, or it could be an early April Fool's gag.

Peter Shankman, founder of Help A Reporter Out (HARO) and author of  "Can We Do That?! Outrageous PR Stunts That Work" doesn't see it as a favorable situation any way you shake it.

"I can't see how he can win in either capacity - he's either an elephant killer, or a moron who has no idea what good PR is or how to get it," Shankman said today. "The bigger question is why he felt the need to post it online at all, no one would have known otherwise…The adage 'If it's not on video, it didn't happen.'"

Shankman, an animal rights activist in his own right today said he will be removing all 400 of his domains from GoDaddy.

Parsons explained the action in the video as one that is beneficial to Zimbabwean subsistence farmers.

"When my team catch elephants in a field (there are never just one) we typically kill one of them and the rest leave for good. After we kill an elephant the people butcher the elephant and it feeds a number of villages," Pasons said. "These people have literally nothing and when an elephant is killed it's a big event for them, they are going to be able to eat some protein. This is no different than you or I eating beef. If at all possible we avoid elephant cows and only kill mature bulls. By just killing bulls it has no effect on the elephant social structure (as it is matriarchal) as well as the herd size. The reason is another bull quickly steps up and breeds in place of the bull taken."

"He 'got meat to the villagers.' That's great, except, you know, for the part where it isn't," Shankman continued. "If this is truly a fake video, an April Fool's Day prank or the like, I think his donation to an elephant rescue society of at least $250,000 should help in saving some of his domains. As of now, [my Facebook page] has enough comments to tell me that GoDaddy is going to be taking a bit of a financial hit here."

Like Shankman and many of the commenters on his Facebook page, animal rights group PETA has launched an e-mail letter writing campaign, which encourages GoDaddy customers to cancel whatever GoDaddy services they use with a letter saying "I won't buy from Go Daddy until you stop killing animals for fun."

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