Is Groupon the real Super Bowl loser?
The discount-deal site goes from darling to dud after a series of ads that some viewers thought were in bad taste.
The company has suffered days of negative feedback after running three Super Bowl spots that appeared to make light of issues like human rights oppression in Tibet. "The people of Tibet are in trouble," actor Timothy Hutton said with apparent concern. "But they still whip up an amazing fish curry!" You can watch the spot here.
The ads triggered so much criticism that Groupon's founder, Andrew Mason, went online not to apologize for them but to explain them. He said the Super Bowl commercials that are truly offensive are ones built around "the crass objectification of women." Groupon's ads didn't do that.
Mason said the ads were mostly self-mocking, a takeoff on the shameless self-promotion that advertising is usually based on. "We would never have run these ads if we thought they trivialized the causes," Mason wrote. "Even if we didn't take them as seriously as we do, what type of company would go out of their way to be so antagonistic?"
In the video interview below, the agency behind those Groupon ads defends them.
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Even Conan took aim at Groupon on his show, offering a fake commercial lamenting the Hindenburg disaster but celebrating the "savings explosion" of a Blimpie sandwich deal on Groupon. "Oh, the frugality!" the commercial joked.
In the big picture, Groupon's business seems not to have suffered much from the backlash. But the Super Bowl ad is a bit of a stumbling block in the discount site's meteoric rise to become one of the hottest properties online.
And so Groupon joins an ignominious list of companies that made bigger Super Bowl flubs than Christina Aguilera. Here are some other losers:
1. Hang in there, Jack. A bus plows into the "Jack" mascot from Jack in the Box. Jack is lying on the street, cracks all over his bulbous head, when his assistant picks up the phone to say, "My boss just got hit by a bus, and it looks really, really bad." Why, yes, that describes the commercial perfectly. Video clip here.
2. Holiday Inn sex change. Featuring a smokin'-hot woman formerly known as "Bob." "It's amazing the changes you can make for a few thousand dollars," the narrator says. "Imagine what Holiday Inn's will look like when we spend a billion." Groan. Video clip here.
3. Just for Feet. A group of white men in a Humvee follow a barefoot Kenyan runner, spike his water with a sedative and force shoes onto his feet. The ad was so horrible that Just for Feet ended up suing the agency that created it. Video clip here.
4. Cream your face. A cheesy, smarmy spot featuring Joe Namath with Farrah Fawcett singing "Let Noxzema cream your face." Ahem. Video clip here.
5. Snickers mechanics kiss. Two mechanics, working on the same car, eat the opposite ends of a Snickers bar until they kiss. Then they have to do something "manly" to recover. Nice little dose of homophobia, Snickers. Video clip here.
6. Apple's lemmings. Everyone loved Apple's 1984 ad. But the lemmings spot, showing a line of blindfolded people falling off a cliff to their deaths, was cruel and dark and a tough one to explain to the kids. Video clip here.
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My very first instinct when seeing these commercials were that of offense, because in my heart I, like so many others do “care” about these issues.
But then I took a step back and looked at the reality of it all. These commercials are just expressing the mentality of most Americans, including myself. Sure we "Care" about the oppression of People, the rapping of the Rainforest, the life of endangered Whales. But ask yourself.... Do you really spend a good amount of your time DOING something about these issues? Do you use your saved money to pay it forward towards these real life problems? Or...... is more of your time spent on how to get what you want, at a cheaper price, when you want it?
We are a society of narcissistic, consumers, who pretend to care about the World's problems. But we are not willing to give up our extravagant lifestyles (compared to most countries and cultures) to really, truly help others. If so, our country wouldn't have the amount of homeless, hungry, unwanted people as we do now. Would you be willing to give up your IPhone and the cost of a Media package (approx $110 Mo.) for a year, to feed a family of 4 in Africa for 4 years (at 82cents a day according to the Christian Children’s Fund).
The next time someone uses their time to complain about "offensive" commercials, ask yourself, when is the last time you did something for someone other than yourself or your own family?
Personally, I now applaud these commercials because they highlight issues that so many Americans most likely never even knew existed or just forgot about. I bet the next time you eat at a Tibetan restaurant, you will think twice about the people of Tibet.
Great commercial. Never heard of the company until I saw that commercial. This country is suffocating under the curse of political correctness and the political correctness Gestapo.
What I did find extremely offensive was the butchering of the National Anthem. That idiot not only didn't know the lines, but screamed the anthem like a cat in heat. Her wailing was abrasive to the ears. A Boy Scout troop would have done a much, much better job.
It was a commercial, it was a joke.
Have a sense of humor and stop taking yourselves so seriously.
What a bunch of crybabies we've become.
Why do we have to be politically correct about everything in our lives today? Just take it at face value.......and laugh.....it's funny.
It wasn't the only lame and offensive ad last Sunday..
but NOTHING was as lame the bad job on the Natiional Anthem, or the crap that passed for music from the black-eyed pee heads
for those that don't like the groupon ads,just grow up.
Most if not all who complain about the Tibet ad dont evn understand Tibet. This ad about Tibet actually very subtlely reveals wht is going on in Tibet. I am sure while 'some' have heard of Tibet, most dont even know wht Tibet is fighting, Do u guys?
Do u guys even know who and where the Dalai lama is from and wht he symbolises?
Tibet is fighting for freedom jst as egypt is and Groupon, with their ads is trying to reveal to u morons wht Tibet is fighting for.
So stop knocking anythng u dont understand.
I AM TIBETAN.
Keep it up Groupon. Much of the world dont understand.
Good work and it wouldn't be the Super Bowl without someone complaining about something!
Wait there's still people complaining?!
I just did this, how many of you crying over how this ad hurt "YOUR FEELINGS" did this?
Donate $15 to help The Tibet Fund develop an initiative for youth employment and economic development in refugee exile communities. All donations matched.
Stop crying over things and DO SOMETHING!!!!!!
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