Sick Celebrities


Groupon explains thinking behind 'bad taste' adverts during Super Bowl XLV


Groupon have posted a blog explaining their thinking behind the three 30 second adverts that featured during the Super Bowl XLV. If you haven’t seen the ads they played the emotional card, using causes like ‘save the whale’, ‘save the rainforest’ and ‘save Tibet’ to sell their group coupon schemes.

The ads were not well received at all and a huge backlash has ensued with many people dropping the company’s service in favour of rivals as a result.

Groupon CEO Andrew Mason riles the public with poor explanation of bad taste adverts

The Groupon delegate known only as ‘Andrew’ (CEO Andrew Mason) has kindly explained via their blog page the reasons why the ads went to air in the first place, but so far the majority of feedback to the article is even more outrage – largely for the lack of an apology.

Andrew said, “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 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.”

And further on he added, “Our ads highlight the often trivial nature of stuff on Groupon when juxtaposed against bigger world issues, making fun of Groupon. Why make fun of ourselves? Because it’s different – ads are traditionally about shameless self promotion.”

The majority of the audience missed the point of the adverts though and there were two reasons why. Firstly the adverts just weren’t funny or ironic; they were like something from the 70’s before industry reforms when advertising was tenuous and often misleading, and as a result the majority of the audience just didn’t get the joke.

This leads nicely to point two; the joke wasn’t funny and there was no mention on the adverts that Groupon would match any donation made to those causes via their partners, so in fact the ads were very misleading and mis-representative.

Many companies have used causes to champion their products, offering donations in the process; but while Groupon have now explained that they will match any donations made by customers to the causes they trivialised in their ads, they haven’t apologised for the lack of explanation at the end of the ads, and have in fact only tried to sell their product again at the end of the blog, as read: “The feedback led us to make changes to the end of our ads that further encourage our fundraising. To that point, if the ads affected you, we hope you’ll head over to and make a donation (which we’ll match) – we’re hoping to raise a lot of money.”

However, knowing that it cost $3m for a 30 second slot at the Super Bowl, surely the company would have been better off making say, one 30 second ad and splitting the other $6m between the causes they so heinously trivialised in their pursuit of advertising returns.

What do you think? Is the explanation via blog enough or were they wrong to use those ads in the first place? Leave your thoughts by posting a comment.

Read our previous review of the Groupon adverts, and read about the Black Eyed Peas half time show, how VW and Audi got it right with their advertising, and read about the 10:10 advert that outraged the world.


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