Was This A Wise Marketing Strategy By Groupon?

Chris CrumMarketing & AdvertisingLeave a Comment

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Groupon is doing what it does best - attracting attention for being just a little bit "off the wall." The company has been doing this for as long as I can remember, and apparently not much has changed in that department since CEO Andrew Mason was ousted. Well, except that they killed the Groupon Kidz Club, and are pretending it never existed.

It did:

Last Friday, the company put out a press release for Presidents' Day Weekend with a "President Alexander Hamilton" campaign.

What did you think of Groupon's "President" Hamilton stunt? Smart PR or bad for Groupon's reputation? Let us know what you think.

A spokesperson said in an email, "The $10 bill, as everyone knows, features President Alexander Hamilton -- undeniably one of our greatest presidents and most widely recognized for establishing the country’s financial system."

The full text of the press release says:

Starting tomorrow, Groupon (www.groupon.com) (NASDAQ: GRPN) will be kicking off Presidents Day weekend by giving customers 10 dollars off 40 dollars when they purchase a deal for any local business. The $10 bill, as everyone knows, features President Alexander Hamilton -- undeniably one of our greatest presidents and most widely recognized for establishing the country's financial system.

Beginning Saturday, Feb. 15 at 9 am CST, shoppers will be able to redeem this offer by using the promo code "10OFF40LOCAL", which isn't very catchy, but neither was President Hamilton's famous saying, "nobody expects to trust his body overmuch after the age of fifty."

President Hamilton is best known for the fiscal sensibilities that led him to author economic policies, establish a national bank and control taxes. Customers can honor our money-minded commander-in-chief and find deals by searching Groupon.com for local deals all through President's Day weekend. Promo codes are limited, and more information can be found at: https://www.groupon.com/faq#faqs:content-269.

That's the whole thing other than the about section and contact info. Oh, and a picture of a ten dollar bill.

Of course, Hamilton was never president, as MANY were quick (and not so quick) to point out. People couldn't wait to talk about how dumb Groupon is, and how they messed up. To some familiar with Groupon's history of quirky antics, the joke was pretty obvious, but most people (including bloggers and reporters) seem to have thought it was just a "gaffe" as Politico put it. The Twitter reaction seemed to be the same. USA Today said, "Oops! Groupon discounts U.S. history and pays tribute to "President Hamilton."

The quirky antics continued on Twitter where Groupon told users arguing that Hamilton was never president that they simply had a different "opinion."

It should have been clear that it was a joke at that point, not to mention when Groupon was retweeting tweets from this Twitter account, which links to Groupon in its bio):

But it wasn't. Still, headlines like this made the rounds: "Derp! Groupon Spox Respects 'Opinion' That Alexander Hamilton Was Never President"

Groupon was just being Groupon, but clearly that didn't exactly resonate with the world at large. Ultimately, Groupon undoubtedly got want it wanted above all else: attention. But was it worth getting this kind of attention? You have to wonder how many of those who thought it was a mistake ever saw the follow-ups about it being intentional. You also have to wonder if Groupon expected that many people to not get it. Especially the media. With its stunt, it got plenty of coverage in the news, but more basically suggesting Groupon is dumb as opposed to being funny.

They did manage to grab a great deal of attention, and even spark trends on the search engines. "Alexander Hamilton President?" was trending on Bing. If nothing else, perhaps some people learned a little history from the stunt.

Ultimately, the whole thing will probably fade from most people's memory, and have little effect (positive or negative) on general perception of Gropuon.

What do you think? Was this a smart PR move or as dumb as some people made Groupon out to be? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Image via Twitter

Chris Crum

Chris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow Chris on Twitter, on StumbleUpon, on Pinterest and/or on Google: +Chris Crum.

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