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GoDaddy vs. Namecheap: Public Outrage & Successful Marketing

In the battle for domain name market share, Namecheap.comhas turned public outrage at its rival's CEO into a gold mine.

Bob Parsons, CEO of GoDaddy
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Bob Parsons, CEO of GoDaddy

Namecheap responded to a video of GoDaddy's CEO Bob Parsons killing an elephant in Zimbabwe, offering a domain transfer special of just $4.99 to "all those disturbed by these actions."

Namecheap is slashing its price — transfers usually start at $8.99 — and donating 20% of its revenue to the charity, "Save The Elephants".

It's working: Namecheap has drawn 20,000 transfers, generating $80,000 in revenue in just a few days, and raising $20,000 for the charity.

Namecheap's 'Save the Elephants'campaign, not only generates new customers, it also raises its profile and generates massive goodwill. None of this would have been possible before Facebook and Twitter — the company closely monitored the chatter about its own company and its rivals. Within 24 hours it devised a strategy and launched the special offer. And Namecheap remained flexible after launching the special, offering three extensions to the original deal. Being nimble allowed the company to fully maximize this thoughtful response to a rival's flub.

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This also speaks to the tone deaf-ness of GoDaddy's CEO. Parsons responded to the outrage, but not with an apology. Instead he took out some pieces of the video about which people had complained in the form of a four-minute video defending his hunting 'Problem Elephants.' (NOTE: the video contains graphic material.) In the video he's only shown shooting an elephant in the dark, and then we see the hungry villagers butcher it, desperate for food.

The video certainly doesn't address the issue that elephants are an endangered species, or the basic fact that customers don't want to see the CEO of a company they pay a monthly or yearly fee shooting "Barbar."

Namecheap may have been the first to launch an anti-GoDaddy Save the Elephants campaign, but it's not the only one.

Manicanet.com will donate 100 percent of the first month you host through its service and $2 of the transfer service to your choice of three elephant charities: Save the Elephants, Elephant Nature Park, or Bush Warriors. Domain.com is taking a different approach — giving the hungry villagers pictured in Parsons' video something to eat other than elephant. It's charging $4.99 for the first 12 domains transferred and donating a dollar from each to Heifer International. And Network Solutions is also jumping on the elephant bandwagon, offering a discounted $6.99 for new and transferred domains.

Can GoDaddy bounce back from this kind of bad publicity - vote in our poll now.

UPDATE: GoDaddy contacted CNBC to report, "We have seen no significant impact on our business from this."

Questions? Comments? MediaMoney@cnbc.com

  • Working from Los Angeles, Boorstin is CNBC's media and entertainment reporter and editor of CNBC.com's Media Money section.