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Groupon Defends Its Super Bowl Ads

Viewers Still Have Mixed Feelings

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Groupon made a lot of noise with its Super Bowl commercials. Initially, before they ever aired, the simple fact that they were advertising before the Super Bowl was interesting news in itself. It would give a growing company mass exposure, and potentially make it a household name. As competition mounts in the daily deals space, extending that brand lead would seem crucial. 

Then the commercials aired, and people got offended. The one that received the most attention featured actor Timothy Hutton saying, "The people of Tibet are in trouble. Their very culture is in jeopardy. But they still whip up an amazing fish curry!" He then went into the Groupon pitch. 

Groupon CEO Andrew Mason took to the company’s blog to defend the advertisements

"We take the causes we highlighted extremely seriously – that’s why we created this campaign in partnership with many hallmark community organizations, for whom we’re raising money at SaveTheMoney.org," he wrote. "Groupon’s roots are in social activism – we actually began as cause-based website called The Point, and we continue to use Groupon to support local causes with our G-Team initiative. In our two short years as a business, we’ve already raised millions of dollars for national charities like Donors Choose and Kiva."

"When we think about commercials that offend us, we think of those that glorify antisocial behavior – like the scores of Super Bowl ads that are built around the crass objectification of women," he added. "Unlike those ads, no one walks away from our commercials taking the causes we highlighted less seriously. Not a single person watched our ad and concluded that it’s cool to kill whales. In fact – and this is part of the reason we ran them – they have the opposite effect."

"We took this approach knowing that, if anything, they would bring more funding and support to the highlighted causes," he said. "That’s why organizations like Greenpeace, buildOn, The Tibet Fund, and the Rainforest Action Network all decided to throw their support behind the campaign."

Read the full post here

Judging from the comments on Mason’s post, the explanation wasn’t enough for some people. Many of those that no see the reasoning, still seem to feel the whole campaign was ill-advised, and that the ads just didn’t work. 

No matter how you felt about them, they’re still being talked about, and Groupon did manage to get its brand name widely discussed. The fact that Mason did take the time to explain will  get plenty of media coverage itself, and that can go a long way for a brand’s reputation. 

The ads were Groupon’s first attempts at television advertising.

Groupon Defends Its Super Bowl Ads


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  • http://marcelocustodio.net Marcelo Cust

    I really don’t get it. What’s so dangerous abot that ad? Absolutely nothing new: the Tibet culture is indeed in jeopardy.

    People these days have been very sensitive for what they shouldn’t be.

    Want to make the good for someone else? Help the homeless in your town, for instance. Be sensitive about that.

  • Guest

    I thought they were great. One, someone who doesn’t care about Tibet at all, sure isn’t going to motivated by Sally Field. So please, anyone complaining about their causes not getting enough attention, do better.

    Bunch of Hipster idiots is what they all are.

    • Guest

      In other words, anything that raises awareness is fine. I really think the bulk majority of Americans watching football have enough intelligence to make proper decisions without commercials mind controlling their political beliefs.

      Leave that to journalists.

      Nobody is eating whale meat, the commercials discouraged travel to what I imagine activists will call an occupied country, and no rainforest is lost when going to the Groupon website.

  • Adsense Publisher

    While I feel for the people of Tibet the commercial was about Groupon selling $30 worth of food for $15 in Chicago. I mean what’s next, a commercial about how people in Ethiopia are starving and you can save half off a meal in Orlando?

    I think the message gets lost when trying to play the sympathy card.

    What they should have done is come up with a bunch of ideas of what to do with all the money that is saved by using Groupon.

  • JJ

    Funny Andrew, my family and I concluded it was ok to kill whales after watching Groupon’s commercial and a video of you at the greatest startup interview site “mixergy” with the other Andrew (your welcome for the plug Warner). Somebody’s gotta wipe that grin off of Andrew’s face! What’s next? “We are going to support the Tibetans and boycott all Chinese made products!”, five minutes later, “Damn! They make everything! And they even even make the Free Tibet stickers too! which is not cool man”. :-)

    Andrew, I know you are reading this. Git away from your Xbox in your office and give me some response.

    JJ

  • http://www.crearecommunications.co.uk/ KJ

    How can the CEO defend the ads in comparison to the scores of other Super Bowl ads! His ads seem to be saying that there are problems out there but we don

  • http://www.dailydealpool.com Guest

    Groupon definitely needs to own up to their commercials if they want to appease the consumers who were offended by these advertisements. While some people got the joking aspect of it, other people found the commercials to be too much.

    A great way for consumers to find the best deals and sales in their area is by going to http://www.dailydealpool.com. They’ll email you the best buys daily, ensuring you won’t miss out!

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