Groupon Delivered a Super Bowl Gaffe

IN GROUPON’S MULTIMILLION-DOLLAR SUPER GAFFE, Timothy Hutton trivialized Tibetan political strife. Elizabeth Hurley mocked deforestation. Cuba Gooding Jr. made light of whale endangerment. Another commercial poked fun at severe poverty.

On the Hutton ad, Conan weighed in: Groupon “exploited Tibet’s troubles to promote its website.”

Some say any buzz is good when you aim to raise awareness, but I couldn’t disagree more. Who cares if Groupon supports these causes?

Most people thought the ads trivialized them to grow business, and Groupon made matters much worse by doing a lousy job of managing the aftermath. Its paid search presence and own blog posts came off equally or more callous than the commercials themselves.

In the week following the Super Bowl, a Google search for “Groupon Super Bowl ad “returned this message: “Unlock Great Deals In Your City. Save The Money At Groupon.com!” Save “The” Money?

Seriously? These characters are still telling the Save The Whales joke that nobody gets/everybody hates? The company should have leveraged paid search for damage control to compete with the thousands of negative results — period.

Groupon’s blog claims the ads were misunderstood. I say poorly executed and tasteless.

Kraig Smith, founder, PReturn

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