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Faux Cause Marketing Ad From Groupon Bombs on Super Bowl

Holy crap, what was Groupon thinking?!

The upstart online marketer airs an ad that starts out looking like an homage to the people and culture of Tibet and it turns out to be actor Timothy Hutton looking smarmy and paying half price at a Chicago Tibetan restaurant thanks to Groupon.

(Groupon produced a second ad with a save the whales theme and featuring Cuba Gooding Jr. It was no better.)

Groupon’s Tibet ad somehow managed to be tasteless, inane, and insulting at the same time. The airtime alone costs $3 million in the high-stakes world of Super Bowl advertising. But that’s the smallest cost to Groupon. Instead the private company just erased millions of dollars in brand equity in one 30-second ad.

This was faux cause marketing at its most reckless.

When Groupon turned down Google’s reported $5 billion buyout offer, many scratched their heads. When the company, which is making money hand over fist, decided to run a Super Bowl ad some analysts chalked it up to tech-company sock-puppet hubris. This ad makes you question management’s judgment.

I’ve had good experiences with Groupon. But Groupon’s got plenty of competition now and I’m inclined to take my business elsewhere.


Anonymous said…
The link above is to Groupon's cause efforts.

I knew about Groupon's cause efforts when I wrote the post. My problem with the ad was that it was neither ironic enough nor sincere enough.

In my view, Crispin Porter + Bogusky, Groupon's ad agency, tried to split the baby, and they didn't do it successfully.
Perez said…
Interesting post! Groupon will either grow like crazy or drop down a few slots when the big dogs start to play. Groupon’s current $25 billion pricetag is flawed for a number of reasons according to Groupon Priced at $25 Billion!!

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