Groupon Super Bowl Ads

After a two-year holdout, we finally decided to run real television ads. In the past, we’ve depended mostly on word-of-mouth and limited our advertising to online search for a couple of reasons. For one, we don’t know if television ads are worth the money. More importantly, television ads are such a huge creative statement, and so hard to do well, that we were worried it’d be near impossible to find an ad agency that could make ads we’d be confident in airing.

This year, we realized that in spite of how much we’d grown, a ton of people still hadn’t heard of Groupon, so we decided to give in to our Napoleon complex and invade the rest of the world with a proper Super Bowl commercial.

Cuba Gooding Jr Groupon Superbowl Ad

The trouble was figuring out what to do and with whom to work. We had tried working with creative agencies before and had never been that impressed. Our peculiar taste in humor made it really hard for outside agencies to come up with concepts we liked. This time around, we had better luck with the ad firm Crispin Porter + Bogusky. We really admired some of the work that CP+B had done in the past, so we gave them a shot at pitching us concepts, and they came up with an idea we couldn’t resist blowing millions of dollars on.

The gist of the concept is this: When groups of people act together to do something, it’s usually to help a cause. With Groupon, people act together to help themselves by getting great deals. So what if we did a parody of a celebrity-narrated, PSA-style commercial that you think is about some noble cause (such as “Save the Whales”), but then it’s revealed to actually be a passionate call to action to help yourself (as in “Save the Money”)?

Timothy Hutton in Groupon Super Bowl Ad

Elizabeth Hurley in Groupon Super Bowl Ad

Since we grew out of a collective action and philanthropy site (ThePoint.com) and ended up selling coupons, we loved the idea of poking fun at ourselves by talking about discounts as a noble cause. So we bought the spots, hired mockumentary expert Christopher Guest to direct them, enlisted some celebrity faux-philanthropists, and plopped down three Groupon ads before, during, and after the biggest American football game in the world.

You can view the already aired commercials, as well as new ones as we release them, at SaveTheMoney.org . And if you’ve saved enough money for yourself and feel like saving something else, you can donate to mission-driven organizations that are doing great work for the causes featured in our PSA parodies. If you guys pony up, Groupon will contribute matching donations of up to $100,000 for three featured charities – [Rainforest Action Network]( http://my.groupon.com/deals/rainforest-action-network), [buildOn]( http://my.groupon.com/deals/buildon), and the [Tibet Fund]( http://my.groupon.com/deals/the-tibet-fund) — and Groupon credit of up to $100,000 for contributions made to [Greenpeace]( http://my.groupon.com/deals/greenpeace).

  • Well done Groupon….Love it

    Cant wait to see it tonight.

  • met Scott from CP+B last year. Great creative team. Can’t beat them, together you guys did a great twist on group buying, getting the important message in one sentence.

    Congratulations.

    ….on a plane now to show Sean in Miami that a billion is so last year.

  • Shame on you for exploiting the misery of the Tibetan people to advertise your company. If this is the sensitivity you have for others, you surely can’t be a company I want to do business with. Take me off your email list and see if you can find a way to benefit the Tibetan people instead of exploiting them for your gain.

  • So after two years, you decide you need to run an ad making light of the Tibetan situation? Seriously? What the heck were you thinking, other than that you want your customers to leave?

  • You guys screwed up. You owe the Tibetan people a public apology for trivializing their position. I know I am not the only person that will be boycotting groupin from here on out.

  • Your ad was detestable and I will never use your company again. Idiots.

  • You guys left out the single most important sentence in each of these commercials…

    “… And $15 will be donated to save (Tibet)(whales)(ETC)”

    Without the punchline, these commercials just make you look like asses. :(

    Mike

  • Sorry Groupon. Major fail by you guys. Quick look through Facebook status’ and Twitter search Groupon shows a ton of people finding it offensive. I thought so too when I first watched it.

  • Definitely did not get the “donate to a nonprofit organization” vibe from the Tibet ad. It seemed more of “these people are loosing their culture, but we can get a great deal on their food!”.

  • I found your ad very offensive. Regardless of how you defend it, it came across as making light of a very unfunny situation in Tibet. Shame on you.

  • I can’t believe you claim to actually support these causes while simultaneously making light of them to line your pockets. I don’t care if you donate the next ten years profits, this is inexcusably insensitive and vulturishly opportunistic. There are people, animals, entire ecosystems dieing right now while you chuckle and offer to give a little ‘handout’. You are preposterously arrogant. I’ll be making sure to uninstall all of my groupon applications and letting anyone I know with a shred if decency know what you’ve done.

  • People SO didn’t “get” what you guys were doing. Everyone loves to jump to conclusions when they’re drunk and stuffed with pizza. By tomorrow, I’m sure the pizza coma will wear off and people will be ready to see what the whole thing is about.

  • Dear Groupon,
    There’s a bit of a disconnect here. You explain in this post that you “loved the idea of poking fun at ourselves” since you “grew out of a collective action and philanthropy site” But as viewers of your tv ad during the superbowl, we don’t know your history, we just see your ad — and it does not read like “poking fun at ourselves” but as making light of human suffering by promoting the feeling of getting a good deal on something.

    So I think you make a classic error — you assumed that we see the world the way you do. You thought it was cute, but it was inside humor. So without reading this blog, I thought your ad agency was simply callous. But now that I read this, I have to tack on that you were self oriented when you choose this ad campaign.

    As a social shopping site, I thought you would promote your “social” facet — something that would tie into the times and generation you are targeting. I think you missed the boat. Next time, ask your fans how they would want to see you portrayed on TV.

  • Comedy’s risky… If you have to explain the joke, it’s not funny. You say “parody” but we all hear “exploitation”

  • They’re okay.

    I worry that the joke may be missed by a lot of people and instead they’ll be upset.

    People get upset over just 2 or 3 insensitive words in commercials these days, even if they are meant to be a joke.

    Curious what the typical feedback will be.

    Will

  • Huge Misstep. You failed to communicate the message behind the cruel jokes. The fact that you are the only brand in the top 20 with consistently negative feedback in #BrandBowl demonstrates it:

    Hopefully people will take them time to figure out what the hell you were trying to do, but your message was completely buried in the joke with no reference to the matching donations and no call to action for the charities you parodied.

    Brutal ads.

  • Spending millions on a self-promoting ad and offering a trivial $100K for each of the charities as an ethical defense for your atrocious ads. Very clever, Groupon. I’m a regular Groupon purchaser and I’m never going to buy one again.

  • Your ads were extremely insensitive and not funny. Watching them made us never want to buy a Groupon again. The average person most likely doesn’t realize you are trying to poke fun at yourself. You just came off as tasteless. And why not donate a lot more than $100,000 to show you really care about these charities?

  • Shame on you, your ads and Crispin Porter + Bogusky. The ads not only are stupid but racist and plain effed up. The worst one the one about the suffering of Tibetans. A disgrace.

  • Good job, Groupon. Your commercial was funny, but I’m not sure if the people you targeted with this ad were smart enough to understand it, much less follow up on it and try to learn more. If they had, there probably wouldn’t be a shitstorm brewing on Twitter.

  • Exploiting Tibetans is fun and profitable! I especially like how Groupon is hiding behind an offer to match contributions to your Tibetan fund “up to $100,000 total.” How much more than that did you blow on your Super Bowl spot exactly?

  • Shame on you, your ads and your ad agency. Those ads are racist and plain dumb. Again. SHAME ON YOU. I am canceling my subscription and deleting ur app off my iPhone.

  • I think it’s awesome that Groupon raises money for nonprofit organizations, in particular the Tibet Fund. I know the founder has a deep connection to the social justice community, so I was really surprised to see Groupon highlighting Tibet’s horrible political situation and turn it into a light hearted ad where people in the US could get discounted Tibetan food in places like Chicago. Really distasteful and poor judgement. Good intentions is not enough.

  • Andrew, I think what you and your team have done with groupon is fantastic, but these ads were so off the mark and insulting to the thousands off people in need that you are “poking fun at”

    Didn’t you hear about the whole @KennethCole thing earlier this week? Besides the fact that the commercials were completely insulting, they didn’t even drive people to the web to donate.

    I’ve been a pretty loyal customer, but with all of the other deal sites out there, I’m probably going to take a groupon break. The ad was a really bad move.,

  • I wish that came across at all in the ad. I was really offended when I saw the Tibet ad. It wasn’t until I actually research it that it made sense. You guys took a huge risk. I applaud you now but I don’t think most people got the point of your commercials. Definitely not on twitter.

  • Taken as just one commercial, it seemed to be in bad taste, but the whole is incredibly funny. I hope more will take the time to see the ad campaign altogether.

  • Been using Gropon for a while but I was shocked in a horrible way with the Tim Hutton commercial mocking the plight of the people of Tibet. Shame, shame, shame. This coming off the heels of the Kenneth Cole tweet mocking the struggle for freedom of the Egyptian people.
    Who will your next target be: women’s voting rights, black’s equality, LGBT youth suicides? Can’t wait to see what other brilliance comes out of your advertising agency.

  • Aaron Cooper and CPB should be fired for truly missing the mark on this campaign.

    Your Tibet ad was absolutely tasteless. As a result I’ve just canceled by Groupon account and will ask others to do the same. I urge you to learn more about the plight of the Tibetan people – it is not a subject to take lightly. I was there in October and witnessed firsthand the pain of families who have had loved ones tortured or killed after speaking out against Chinese occupation. Is that amusing to you?

    No doubt you will get attention from this ad, but I hope in the end it will result in a loss of customers for your site. You just lost one frequent user here.

    Whatever inside joke you were trying to play on here was completely overshadowed by the poor taste of the ad.

  • Well, you folks went and outsmartedyourself. The ad came off as in extremely poor taste. The bottom line is this: the tragedy in Tibet is real, ongoing, and however it’s couched, you tried to leverage that reality to make money.

    Disgusting.

  • I have never used a Groupon coupon and after witnessing your shamefully exploitive ad, I never will. And by the way, I am a consultant in the retail internet business with clients whose sales are in the billions and I will do my best to minimize their commercial use of your service. You deserve to fail.

  • Someone on Youtube had this to say about your twisted Tibet-groupon commercial.

    Wow, this is f***ing offensive.

    “Millions of jews were murdered through starvation at Auschwitz… but that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy this GREAt brisket at Katz’s Delicatessen, thanks to Groupon!”

    Do you get it?

  • Terrible, tasteless ads – good intentions gone BAD. Fire your ad agency pronto.

  • $100,000? Really? You’re going to donate $100,000 after paying $3m per spot for the ads?

    Stay classy!

  • Groupon is a humorless tasteless company. You obviously don’t know humor and going after tibet like that was dispicable. Next time you can spend millions trying to salvage your customers back.

  • Unfortunately your Super Bowl ad, although not the intent, went off as very insulting. Possibly the time constraints did not allow for a proper delivery and led to bad editing. None-the-less it upset a large number of people. You should make it clear that it was not your intent to belittle the tragic human rights issues in Tibet and use the media coverage of your faux pas to really help Tibet.

  • Tasteless and wrong! Fifty years of Chinese genocide and you give them some money and all is in balance. Sure you don’t but I am done with groupon!

  • No excuses guys. Man up and admit that this was in bad taste. To make light of the plight of the Tibetan people for the sake of telling people about your services is pretty lame.

    The sooner you can distance yourselves from the ad agency and the people in your business who thought this was a good idea, the better. $100k? How about donating the full cost of production and the full cost of buying the spot to a cause supporting Tibet?

    I know one thing for certain, I’ve bought my last Groupon for a while.

  • I can’t believe that Tibet ad is what you created for the Superbowl. Exploiting their tragedy, to sell coupons for restaurants? Is that really the best ad you could have come up with?

  • If y’all had done some ad about animals, it MIGHT have been funny, but what you actually did was very demeaning, in my opinion. I know that you probably won’t notice or care but I unsubscribed!

  • I only saw the Tibet ad. It did not work for me. I found it tasteless and offensive. I simply don’t understand why a company would want to appear so insensitive and exploitive.

  • Should have made it clear about the philanthropy angle. Consensus on Twitter and among people I know is that you used the oppression of the Tibetans as cheap attention-getting tactic for your company. I believe you lost more customers than you gained tonight, and you have some fence-mending to do.

    Only good thing that might come of it is the controversy might get you some bounce in the media. Otherwise, a dumb, costly move.

  • I only saw the Tibet ad….but it really comes off in poor taste. Using oppressed people as the set-up for a joke is not a good idea.

  • I’m still flabbergasted. I can see why Alex Bogusky left CP & B now–they just don’t know when too far is too far–and neither did you all until tonight.

    I know the internal culture of groupon must be great. But all was lost in translation tonight, to my chagrin.

  • As I watched this ad, my usual sense of humor gave way to the pain of human suffering. Could you image a 1944 ad saying, “As Jews are dying in Auschwitz, they also make great matzo balls at Ratner’s deli, come for a bargain and partake of Jewish culture. You do better and we desire better. This may be an opportunity to upgrade all of our sensitivities.

  • With the exception of the spot with Cuba Gooding Jr., your commercials missed the mark. The one spot about Tibet was just dumb and the one with Elizabeth Hurley was offensive and really turned me off to your brand.

    While your company may have a “peculiar” sense of humor, that’s hard to introduce to a market that knows little or nothing about your company. I’m interested in good deals, not your sense of humor. Your spots distracted from the core message to your target market: people seeking deals. Tell me about your product and how to use your services. Sell me on the brand to establish the customer base and then introduce me to your humor.

    I also think humor is best conveyed with a “mascot” like Jack in the Box or the Geico Gecko. Your spots were just confusing and did nothing to sell the brand to me.

  • Wow. This is the most ill conceived and/or regrettable ad campaign, that I can remember, in recent history.

    They simply don’t come across as psa parodies. They come across as truly tasteless ads.

    Of course they will generate publicity, and they say there is no such thing as bad publicity…right?

    Tell that to this, now former, customer.

  • The level of tastelessness exhibited in the Tibet ad was unreal. I didn’t even bother trying to watch any of the others. I sincerely hope you’ll rethink next year’s ads. I’m absolutely not a fan of these ads, and will not be buying any further Groupons.

  • Bad move. REALLY bad move. It was a total fail in terms of first impression. Jolting in a very negative way.

    I expected better.

  • I am truly appalled at your latest Groupon commercial series. I recently became a member, made a purchase and am deeply regretting it. Clearly your priorities are not what I thought they were. I will be deleting your app and pulling myself from your email list. Some things are funny and others really not. So disappointing.

  • These ads are tasteless and completely turn people off from your service. There is no reason to exploit people and the environment to show getting a good deal. Your service is valuable and can be a huge value to demonstrate, especially in this economy. Big miss with these ads.

  • The fact that you WON’T donate to these charities unless people do is pretty tasteless. It is also a paltry donation considering the wealth and success of Groupon. It is also completely offensive that you would think you are somehow “informing” a public that you would otherwise feel is ignorant of these causes. To make light of the situation in Tibet and the serious problems of deforestation in Brazil only plays into the lowest common denominator of America. If you want to perpetuate the idea that it’s okay to make fun of Tibetan refugees just to promote your company, then you’ve completely failed as a “culturally responsible” company.

  • As a veteran commercial editor I found the ads patently unfunny and offensive. There was absolutely no light i could imagine them even seeming to be humorous. As a current restaurant owner who has a groupon in progress, I feel embarrassed to honor them at all. They are calamitous for a small, new business and regret bowing to the severe sales pressure to try them. shame on me.

  • Fantastic. You’ve done something here that’s funny, silly and genuinely subversive, and put paid to the idea that adverts should almost always go after the lowest common denominator.

    I presume you’re sitting back and getting a whole lot of satisfaction out of the (ridiculous, but I suppose inevitable) outrage this has caused?

    From what I’ve seen you’ve not really gained a foothold in the UK yet. I hope that once people see this campaign for it really is, your presence and popularity will increase.

  • The adds were funny. But “blowing millions” on the ads and only matching $100k to the “featured charities” isn’t going to sit well with the inherently-indignant.

  • Just having seen the Tibet ad, I thought it was crass and inappropriate. Here’s a people who have suffered a genocide and expulsion and it’s being mocked to show how a Groupon user can save their own money. Now coming to your site, I get the backstory: “Wouldn’t it be funny if we flipped altruism on it’s head and focused on narcissism?”
    Well the concept is shallowly funny, but the execution was not. The ad was cheap and trivializes a whole people just so more people can learn about your website. Shame on you.

  • Sorry guys, 100,000 is pocket change to you. You guys dropped the ball. Bye bye Groupon. And yes, I will spread the word and support all of your competitors especially as a business owner.

  • Tibet ad was tasteless and in poor form. Trivializes the plight of an occupied and oppressed people.

  • Now that you explained your intentions, the Super Bowl ad is pretty funny. Unfortunately, I don’t think most people caught your humor, thus resulting in so many negative responses on the Huffington Post.

  • Your explanation makes sense. And, even from a Buddhist POV (it was about TIbet, after all) the ad was non uncompassionate. I still don’t think it worked, though. The self-mocking “wink” was just not obvious. In fact it was so subtle I had to read your blog to have it explained.

  • These new advertisements from GROUPON are not only INSENSITIVE but NOT even remotely FUNNY. I understand that they were trying to make light of people’s suffering in Tibet and the destroying of the Brazilain rain forest, but the ads were not only NOT funny but childish. I am very surprised by the lack of professionalism of Groupon (and I work for a national television broadcaster that should tell you that my standards aren’t that high to begin with)… but seriously … people in Tibet are dying and GROUPON trys to profit off of their pain and suffering … TOTALLY UNCOOL…. maybe your next ad can make jokes about people dying of Cancer or AIDS or even a good domestic assault commercial !!!

  • Hey I just wanted to pop in and say this campaign was beyond stupid, and the notion that you were “poking fun at yourselves.” Yeah, good job selling that one. Might need a coupon for that weaksauce explanation.

  • The Chinese occupation of Tibet has been characterized by acts of murder, rape and arbitrary imprisonment; torture and cruel, inhuman and degraded treatment of Tibetans on a large scale. To mock the atrocities Tibetans face on a daily basis–especially for economic gain–is despicable. My company is ceasing all marketing activities with Groupon immediately.

  • hahahahahaha. I love how you guys thought this was going to be a good idea. Poke fun of human suffering and use it to get people to buy half-off coupons? Really bad move. not funny. not cool.

    You thought you were poking fun of yourselves, but you couldn’t have been more wrong.

  • Sorry but the ads sucked. They were offensive and tasteless. By trying to win over new people who do not know your history, how are they supposed to get the mockumentary aspect? And the page you set up with the videos and donation links does nothing to clarify that. The ads were not funny. They came across as convenient ways for people to gloss over any concern for REAL issues by just focusing on themselves. Because really that’s what you are doing – getting people to focus on their wallets, not on those in need. There was a serious disconnect in your ads, and you have lost subscribers as a result. Backfired, didn’t it? Not to mention the notion that Groupon spent millions of dollars on AD time. How does that help the planet, hm?

  • I already donate to my charities and don’t need you mocking their causes.

    Goodbye Groupon.

  • Poor taste and lack of foresight in all the ads I saw….parody redefined -NOT!

  • Ou tried, but you failed and you ticked off the entire Twitterverse in 30 seconds. Better have a statement ready for the morning news, because it will be all bad news if you don’t.

  • Well, if your goal was to get people who formerly liked your service to unsubscribe, it worked.

  • Not good enough. You blew a chance to come out as a socially responsible organization.

    I will work hard to share my disgust over these ads. Groupon may be a great idea but I cannot support a company that would exploit the millions of Tibetans who have been driven from their homeland for a Super Bowl commercial.

    Shame on you.

    Julie Hellman

  • Unbelievable. First of all, do some research. Tibetans, in general, as a culture, don’t eat fish and they don’t make curry! It’s beyond me that you would try to poke fun at yourself at the expense of exploiting a culture that has been through nothing but pain and suffering the last fifty years. Why don’t you try to put your time and energy to a real noble cause instead of wasting your time pretending that coupons are a noble cause. I will never, ever purchase or endorse your product. Unbelievable.

  • The Tibet ad was heinously offensive. Somebody actually ok’d that to go on the air?

  • Should perhaps wait a bit before you advertise again.

    Less laughs in genocide than groupon thinks.

  • Bad form. Bad taste. You are losing customers. How about you donate $1 million to each cause based on the less than appealing ads you created. There is irony and cynicism and sarcasm and humor, non of which you’ve conveyed here.

  • Unless you wanted to create controversy, a la “bad publicity is still publicity” you really stepped in it. I’ve unsubscribed, and from what I’ve seen around the net, others are also unsubscribing in droves.

  • Awful. Ridiculing deadly serious issues, like the fate of Tibetans, thinking it’s funny their culture is being crucified if at least they have a restaurant in the US? How flip, insensitive and nasty-minded. And the others on tonight? Even worse. You have lost my business.

  • I am stunned that you think mocking these causes to pich getting 50% off a cheeseburger is funny or enhances your service. Your marketing guys have a tin ear and I’ll be suprised if you leave these ads up on your site or air them again.

  • Wow, I see what you guys were trying to accomplish here – but I think you completely missed the mark. Most people are going to see the ad, not follow through to the website – and just think that you guys are a bunch of jerks.

  • You guys suck. I hope that your tastelessness in producing the SuperBowl shorts is the beginning of the end for you all.

  • I can understand what you were trying to do, but making a joke out of Tibet’s struggle for cultural survival? There might have been a way to do that commercial without being insensitive, but you certainly didn’t find it.

  • I see how this could’ve seemed like a good idea, but unfortunately the narrative didn’t come through and the ads came off as Groupon had feared: Not Funny Enough, not quite right, and – yikes – exploitative to the kinds of causes ThePoint originally sought to aide. The “mock”umentaries lost the audience, and unfortunately left the causes in question to bear the brunt of the joke instead of the company.

    Making fun of Groupon itself through classic, self-deprecating humor would have been fantastic. Unfortunately the ultimate story customers heard was that Tibet’s struggle doesn’t matter because we can make ourselves feel like it’s A-OK by buying half-cost food around the corner. Poor form.

  • Ooh, here’s another! I’m telling ya, I’m a marketing GENIUS!

    “1960s. The Watts riots. The scene of chilling brutality and suffering. Dogs unleashed on unsuspecting black onlookers. Children firehosed and beaten with batons. Homes and properties set ablaze…

    Just like the fiery pits at Neely’s Bar-B-Que, where I just saved $10 on a $20 fried chicken and baby back ribs with two large sides. Finger-lickin’ savings at Groupon!”

    Then link to the NAACP donation page on groupon.com.

    Aaaand SCENE! This stuff is fun, I do admit.

  • Clearly these comments are moderated, right? It’s been flooding negative sentiment for hours on the real-time web and tumblweeds in here.

  • Sadly, you failed at mentioning those great philanthropic measures in your ads. Which gave myself and many others a bad taste in their mouth.

  • the superbowl ad was terrible. tasteless humor and bad advertising.

    worst ad of the night, by far.

  • I only saw your tibet ad today. It was the most tasteless thing I have seen in a long time. It actually made me feel ashamed to be an american, and personally responsible for exploiting an oppressed culture. Good work.

  • I love a non-PC joke. I laughed when Jeremy Clarkson made fun of Mexicans. I laughed when Family Guy did their dumpster baby musical number. I can laugh at a lot of things and not care if people think I’m an a-hole.

    However, these commercials were lame and not at all funny. These just made you look completely insensitive and I hope you become the next Pets.com.

  • You blew it BIG. Crispin was lazy and went for the easy cheap shot. Start figuring out your way out of this FAST before it gets worst.

    Torturing of human being is NEVER EVER funny.

    Maybe you can send discount tickets to hell.

  • Your concept of story-line based on mockery of tragedies are insensitive and the Tibet issue was taken too far given the history behind it – a despicable way to trivialize the suffering of and oppression of an entire people. Its a parody done in complete bad taste. Talking about taste, Tibetan’s do not excel in the art of Fish curry making, nor is the Himalayan restaurant in Chicago a Tibetan restaurant and I will not even comment on that server and his hat. Horrible research right there- guess you really care huh!

  • I think the Tibet ad was completely inappropriate and without redeeming qualities. It shows that you believe Americans to be completely selfish and greedy – or that you hope that’s how we are. Dude, you are giving the human race a bad name.

  • You stupid f*Cks… you just did a joint-venture with Tencent in China and now you think you can drop a commercial poking fun at Tibet…

    You’ll die in China. No doubt. You need more than a Creative Agency, PR Agency. You need some common f*cking sense.

    I bet the Creative Agencies you decided not to use wouldn’t have been so retarded as to let you do that.

    Internet darling you maybe for now, but take the offers whilst they last. You’ll fry just like Myspace did as there is no barrier to entry for your (ahem) model.

    My bet is you will crash and burn or maybe sell for ~35m.

  • A xenocidal agenda is wiping out the precious remains of an ancient culture, but thanks to Groupon, we ate cheap!

  • i’m in the business and get playing with “the line,” but you totally crossed it.. tasteless… classless… try actually going to tibet and seeing the very real and deadly struggles of these people… you might think twice about making these people the butt of your “parody”… c+p… thanks for making me embarrassed about how i earn my daily bread.

  • I guess these comments are being heavily moderated as no one has yet spoken about the elephant in the room, namely how awful the Groupon ads were.

    Concept may have been humerous but the execution was just terrible and in many ways plain offensive (not in a good way either).

  • Your commercial was not funny, only offensive and insensitive. You completely failed. BTW, I’m not giving you my email so you can send me spam.

    You suck.

  • Wow! What totally tone-deaf marketing! You’ve hit a new low, and I suspect your servers will just about melt down dealing with all the people quitting Groupon now.

    You had a chance to say “Hey: you can save a butt-load of money with Groupon, and do some good, besides.” Instead, you decided to go the cynical route, pretend to be sincere, then pull the rug out from under your audience. So very, very stupid.

    And no, I do not need to lighten up. You need to grow up. Or, as is more likely, go out of business.

  • Worst commercial ever. Insensitive and racist, this commercial does not put Groupon in a positive light.

  • It’s almost as though you knew people would be offended by one or more of these spots, so you published this fig-leaf of a disclaimer beforehand.

    Have you asked any Tibetans how funny they thought the spot with Timothy Hutton was?

  • Wow. Keep it classy. Millions killed, a culture destroyed, but they make good curry so all is ok!

  • Hated the adverts and have unscubsribed. Free Tibet! Save the whales! Unsubscribe from Groupon!

  • I have to say – I’m very disappointed with the creative direction of all your TV spots. They made light of extremely serious social and human rights issues as if to say – we know the plights of the world, but instead of banding together for a good cause, we should just band together for a great deal. I have been a loyal Groupon user and I really think you could have taken another direction with your first TV ads.

  • I caught the Tibet one during the Superbowl. That was really f*ing insensitive. You used real human suffering to make a joke to try to sell your product.

    I’m discontinuing my business with Groupon because of it.

    Have any interest in making it right? You’d better pull these ads, issue an apology, AND make those donations free of the fetters of requiring Groupon users to “pony up” first.

    PS- None of your “gist” came through, either. (The gist of the concept is this: When groups of people act together to do something, it’s usually to help a cause. With Groupon, people act together to help themselves by getting great deals.) The commercial was just totally flippant, and I think you’ll soon find there are a lot of others who agree. You screwed up. Best to just admit it, make reparations, and try to learn from it.

  • I see now what you were attempting to do, but you turned a lot of people off with these ads. Search groupon on twitter and you’ll see what I mean…

  • As I was watching the Super Bowl an advertisement came on that showed images of the Tibet and the dialogue spoke of how their culture is disappearing. The commercial quickly snapped out of its educational tone to a snarky “what’s in this for me” attitude, then pitched whatever product it was for.
    All of that being said. I didn’t really know what your company was about. So I came across this page and read about why you decided to make these commercials.

    I now understand your intentions, but frankly these ads were poorly executed. I feel like you were making fun of Tibet as much as you were bringing awareness to it.
    You welcomed apathy. The worst enemy of action and something that plagues our society.

    Perhaps there was too much insider humanitarian humor, but in the future I would greatly advise not marginalizing causes (even sarcastically). As creators and communicators we have a responsibility with what we present to the public. While I commend you on the fact that at some point you attempt to get these causes donations but please, capitalism clearly has gotten the best of you guys.

    “We really admired some of the work that CP+B had done in the past, so we gave them a shot at pitching us concepts, and they came up with an idea we couldn’t resist blowing millions of dollars on” – did you read yourself type this? the chinese govt is erasing tibetan culture from the world… as people can only afford rice and beans once a day. seriously, i hope this was a wake up call.

  • Groupon exploited the plight of suffering Tibetans to promote the company during the Superbowl. How shameful.

    Oh H.
    San Francisco

  • I was really hoping you guys would trivialize other mass tragedies – here are some ideas:
    1. the holocaust and then give me a great deal on bagels.
    2. the looting of the egyptian museum, but then 2 for 1 at SFMOMA!
    3. 9/11, but hey! half price upgrade on american airlines!!!

    I actually HATE your company now and you’ve lost business from me. forever.

  • Worst move in advertising history. I understand that you may actually support the causes that were spoofed in these ads, but that doesn’t excuse the tasteless way that you presented them. You’ll probably just come back by saying that “you just don’t get the ads”, but if that’s the case, you know who else didn’t get them? About the 20 people on my facebook feed who already said that they’re unsubscribing from your daily emails, and, I have no doubt, many thousands of your formally loyal customers. Good move guys.

  • •“Dear @Groupon – over a million Tibetans have been killed during Chinese occupation. Your ad wasn’t funny.” (via Devbost on Twitter)

    •“Groupon seems to have achieved the unique feat of paying $3M to lose customers who previously loved them.” (via RohitBhargava on Twitter)

  • What is funny about exploiting the deaths of one million Tibetans? #Tasteless

  • I didn’t think the ads were particularly offensive, more so I was debating whether I thought they would sell. But, in the end,the back-and-forth over the propriety of the ads might actually end up in more donations to good causes. Whether it helps Groupon, update us with the numbers :)

  • Regardless of where your roots are from, the commercial you decided on was incredibly tasteless and unfunny. Given the quality of writing on your site, though, I must admit that I should not have been surprised. Enjoy this moment, Groupon, you and your “peculiar taste of humor” just became the most hated company of the Super Bowl.

  • But guys…unless one reads this “explanation” for your new ads, one may not get your point that this is a parody and that you are accepting donations for these very real causes. In the meantime, they just seem sort of tacky. Sorry Groupon, I love you, but this is not real cool. Get your own good deal by demanding a refund from the ad company.

  • The “You Can Help” commercial that was aired during the Super Bowl was just terrible. Imagine instead of Tibet the focus in the commercial was Darfur? “The women and children of Darfur face the prospect of being brutally raped and murdered, but they still make a mean Kissra. And thanks to Groupon I can enjoy a $30 Sudanese meal for $15″

  • This was about as pathetic an advertisement as I could possibly imagine. I watched it with my children and it rendered me as thoroughly depressed about the state of humanity as, well, the rest of the spectacle of the Super Bowl. I made sure that I took time to explain to my children how completely reprehensible the ad was, what it signified (selfish, boorish, insensate behavior in a time when we need to be thoughtful about our actions more than ever) and I am immediately unsubscribing from your emails. Anyone who in even a weak moment could come to the conclusion that this was a socially acceptable way of promoting your product obviously has nothing to do with the world I hope to live in. I am sure you all congratulated yourselves about the “concept” of your ad, but something tells me you didn’t spend a moment thinking about how that message is interpreted by the sizable proportion of children watching this telecast.
    Perhaps future ads can feature the horrors of the Holocaust while touting a local bratwurst eatery. What a concept!

  • you paid all that money to create an ad that is in such poor taste. Great, I want to buy a groupon so I can exploit Tibetians for their food at a discount. I’m going over to livingsocial, or yelp, or google new coupon site. bye bye flash in the pan

  • Disgusting ads. Period. Especially the one about Tibet. I can applaud your philanthropic efforts, but the commercials literally turned my stomach. Everyone in the room with me felt the same way as well, so I don’t think I’m alone here. You say you weren’t sure if you would find an agency who could make a commercial you could be confident airing. I don’t understand how ANYONE with even a tenuous grasp of what has happened to the people of Tibet could have felt confident airing that commercial. “These peaceful people have been tortured and are systematically being eradicated, but I got a wicked deal on the food they inspired at a restaurant in my city!” You really find that humorous? I find it hopelessly callous and misguided, at best. I used to watch and recommend Groupon. Barring a sincere public apology, I’m done doing either.

  • This is pretty much the worst PR move of the last 2 decades. Way to shoot yourselves in the foot. Had you simply mentioned that you would have donated $1 from all groupons in February to Tibet you’d look like heroes, how could you and your ad agency be so daft?

  • The Super Bowl commercial was tasteless. The problem is that none of us know anything about “thepoint.com” or your current charity work. When you broadcast a risky commercial in front of millions of people who don’t “get it” you are building a reputation for having no moral compass. Making fun of yourself is fine, but this ad made fun of people who are hurting. That is never okay. Next time I suggest doing A LOT more testing. Your company and ad agency may have gotten what you were going for, but no one else in America did.

    Besides, the premise of the commercial is all about “me, me, me.” To correct this problem you need to immediately release a public apology (via TV ads, social media, PR, etc). Then you need to talk about how serious the problems in Tibet are and show us that you mean it by taking action. Donate 100% profits or match every purchase made on groupon.com within a certain time period and give the money to some charity that directly benefits the Tibetan people. And then of course don’t make anymore Super Bowl commercials.

    The cost of fixing this disaster may be huge, but loosing thousands of customers (or more) and branding yourself in this way will ruin you forever. We don’t want an excuse. We want an apology and for you to make this right. LivingSocial is gaining a stronger share of your market every second you wait to act.

  • It’s disgusting and exploitive and calling it a parody doesn’t excuse it. A parody has a target that it is ridiculing. So what is the target of this parody? Social activism? That’s sick.

  • Incredibly stupid and offensive. I’ll go out of my way to avoid Groupon in the future.

  • The commercials were tasteless, without class, and not remotely funny. After referring approximately a dozen friends to Groupon, I am now no longer using it – and yes, I don’t even care about the $80 of Groupon credit I have on my account. The commercials were ridiculous and I no longer support Groupon. My friends are thinking the same.

  • Interesting concept but really poor execution. Might have worked had you included links to real organizations that helped, but it came off in very poor taste. But it does capture the heart and soul of America, doesn’t it? me, me, me

  • Not “Well done” at all. The parodies are as tasteless as mocking Columbine, 911 or the Holocaust. Some people may find them funny, but do you REALLY want to associate yourselves with that type of people?

  • Your commercials would have been accepted as gallows humor from a hip, good-hearted company if you had only made some reference to this matched donations aspect. Instead, it looked like you were saying, “Who cares? As long as I get my stuff.”

  • Perhaps the sales pitch from the ad agency explained you “position” better than the commercials but I think you find in retrospect that poking fun, even in satire, at the expense of suffering people and animals tends to offend rather than humor people.

  • Wow. Love your company and business model, but was/am stunned by the sheer arrogance and stupidity of you doing – in your words – a “parody” of “noble causes.” You really think that your user base wants to associated with the narcissistic a-holes portrayed in your ads? I assume the $100K donation plan was added after these spots were finished, as an insurance policy as if to say, “Hey, we were just kidding; ‘cuz you know, we’re hip and ironic and stuff!” Good luck with the blow back.

  • FAIL; Tibet not clever or mockumentary-able…just because you have the money to buy into the Super Bowl doesn’t mean you’re excused or exempt from being called out for being cheesy and tasteless.

  • I love the concept! It was one of my favorite ads run during the Superbowl. Nice work! :-D

  • I love it. You show us things you want us to see, but we don’t. When we comment on your blog about it, you censor us. Nice double standard.

    Can I log in to your site yet? So I can cancel your membership? Or are you still trying to slow the bleeding by not letting us in?

  • I thought your advertising during the Super Bowl last evening damaged your fledgling brand image. After reading this post this morning, I can see where you went wrong. It appears you folks are doing advertising by committee. If so, no good creative product will ever come from it.

    Tighten up your advertising strategy. Let your marketing team do the job, or get a marketing leader whose shoulder you do not have to look over. Spending money like you spent last night, your advertising better be right, because if not, it’ll cost you more than you can imagine.

  • Trivializing the plight of the Tibetan people for you stupid commercial was abhorrent, tactless and not very funny.

    Will you next make a commercial about the poor Palestinian people living in the Gaza Ghetto? Maybe the Egyptian protestors?

    Shame on you! I will definitely NOT be using groupon!

  • This one was a fail. Your snarkiness is way too buried, and instead all we really saw was an extremely insensitive and muddled message. You may want to re-think that ad agency you’re going on about.

  • Questionable concept, poor execution. It’s hard to believe Christopher Guest signed off on these. On the upside, you may have singlehandedly resolved the Tibet issue, as it seems both Free Tibet activists and One China hard-liners finally have something to agree on: the Tibet ad was terrible.

    You guys have a fine coupon site. Probably, though, you should stay out of politics.

  • I had to laugh when I first saw the Elizabeth Hurley ad. But felt on the other hand that it was a bit arrogant to minimize real problems like the causes you use.

    However after having read these intentions behind the campaign I get it, and see what you were trying to achieve.

    Risqué but I hope it turns out well for you guys!

  • you may have wanted to included the charitable angle in your spots… as it were, you’ve simply offended a whole lot of people. nice one.

  • I have enjoyed your service for about a year now, and have purchased many Groupons. However, your Super Bowl ad last night was beyond tasteless. I have unsubscribed from groupon and will not be using it any longer.

  • Lame. Totally bungled the execution of a campaign concept that was shaky to begin with. The truly sad thing is that if there had been some mention that actual charity options were available on the site, it might have taken a little of the bite out of the cynicism and saved your asses.

    Maybe next time you should check and see if someone outside your insular work group is amused by your “peculiar taste in humor.”

  • Hey Groupon!

    I know you guys are receiving a lot of flak for a perceived lack of cultural sensitivity in your superbowl ad, especially from the Tibetan community, and I’ll admit there are some minor inaccuracies (the bastardized Tibetan outfit of the waiter, and the lack of fish in Tibetan cuisine, much less curry).
    The truth is that neither the joke nor the fact of your helping raise funds for the Tibet Fund was obvious at the first or even subsequent viewings of the commercial, and frankly, I think Tibetans have suffered too much over the years labouring under the onslaught of Chinese hegemony and persecution, to be able to laugh at it.
    However, I would like to thank you, for bringing the cause of my people ( and that of the environment) to the fore in such a public way, even though your message may not have come across as intended.

  • This was pretty tasteless, Groupon. As much as I like that you’ve put up matching dollars for worthwhile causes, the failed attempt at humor is so bad that I’ll be looking for other ways to “save the money” for a while.

  • People can also support the “mission-driven organizations that are doing great work for the causes featured” on their own, without giving money to the organization that funded the commercials. Sorry, Groupon, making fun of yourself doesn’t make the commercials funny or in good taste. What’s sad is that I actually did appreciate the information shared about your company, and would have been very interested in starting to use your service (I’ve heard about it from friends but didn’t know much about it before the ads), but I’m so put off by the ads that it now feels unethical to use your service. Some things can’t be purchased at 50% off…like integrity.

  • First clue that you need to worry about the portfolio of your VP of marketing:

    “I think we should run a Super Bowl ad…”

  • Regarding the Super Bowl Tibetea ad, it was childish, insulting. What were yoyu guys thinking?!!

  • Tasteless. I can’t wait for your clips of Haitian tent cities and an ad for 50% French Creole cuisine. Or some footage of Egyptian protesters being run over in the streets plus 50% cleaning services for your Egyptian cotton sheets and towels. Guest’s mockumentaries work because you know what you’re getting when you buy the ticket, and they’re not selling anything but the movie itself. This campaign is a big FAIL and I’m rethinking my interest in Groupon, given the number of other similar services out there.

  • Are you kidding me? offensive enough to make us quit Groupon, way to promote “ugly-Americanism”.

  • Yes, saw all three commercials and found them depraved, humorless and belittling of any kind of philanthropic cause you MAY have.

  • Guys – I’m sorry – your ads really turned me off. It was not ‘obvious’ that you were going for humor and there are some things that just don’t fit. Being sarcastic about the plight of persecuted people or the environment under siege does not resonate in any positive way – to have to go to your blog to see that you are trying to support these causes is lame. Your ad agency did you a big dis-service. By the way – the guy from the agency was on CNN this morning and he did nothing to inspire confidence…Good luck next time. I just unsubscribed from your site.

  • Thought the Tibet ad was stupid and offensive. I got the joke but didn’t think it was funny. Would you guys do an ad about Katrina victims or the victims of the Tuscon shootings?

  • Sorry, but I think you blew it. Everyone I was with agreed they were the tackiest thing going. Tasteless, embarrassing as a supporter of GroupOn. I was pleased to see the same sentiments on several Facebook pages. As one friend said, your offer to match donations to those organizations (for a grand total of $3K) feels like lame damage control.

  • Really, you guys need a marketing executive who has some idea what he/she is doing; dito for ad agency.

  • You’re so full of sh*t. Your ads were tasteless and Ii canceled my subscription. Grow a REAL conscience – one that is NOT tied to your pocket. Your fake phlianthropy is so cheap and tacky. There are just some things you don’t make fun of. Tibet is one of them. Bye bye Groupon. Hello LivingSocial and Amazon. I believe you fear Amazon more anyway – or at least you should.

  • I understand your concept better now, but if my experience is in any way common, it’s not healthy that I couldn’t understand it from your commercials, but only when explained.

    Parody is difficult to pull off. Critical to its success is making it clear to the audience the object of the barb. The fault here is that you played the first half of these commercials so straight that it wasn’t possible to tell conclusively the object of the parody: the cause or the conventions of PSAs. Your edginess came across, but not your poking fun at yourselves, or your heart.

    You’d have done better if you’d consulted with, not advertisers and media experts alone, but also with professors of literature and a few good novelists.

  • I understand your intention, but I don’t think it works here. It just comes off as a parody….rather than as a true attempt to raise awareness to some serious causes.

  • What a terrible advert re:Tibet. I like some fairly extreme comedians but trivializing a country which has suffered (arguably) more than any other in the past few decades was low, and ultimately not funny. You basically tried to pin a joke on a countries struggle for independence, hilarious!

  • Marketing 101, don’t muddy your image with your consumers, especially if all you have is a cyber presence and no product of your own! …as you can tell, none of us got the memo about the “joke” before you ran the ads… If the premise was you thought there were people who still didn’t know you, why the heck would you want this image to be your first impression? …if they didn’t know you yet, they would have no idea what you were parodying now, would they?…hence no humor because parody requires familiarity. You just came off promoting infantile self-centered consumerism at the cost of people and things suffering.

    You had great social issue capital and a great rating, through your philanthropic ties…now folks are just confused…are you socially conscious or not?

    I loved your humor, but it was never mean, dismissive, or arrogant, it was just quirky and whimsical… why didn’t you feature your brand image “Groupon,” the pithy cat, or create scenarios based on your terrific offer copy? All is brilliant, non-sequituer humor, defined your image, and would be instantly familiar to new customers that made it to your site. Plus, that material is made for SB ads (herding cats for EDS, The Streaker, for Bud?)

    Then I think the only way out of this will be to offer a big, honest, “oops” we got carried away ad buy, even use the “we are ad neophytes” line, and “now” do a sincere tie-in with your roots, and push push push your social cause donation angle, maybe a percentage to a choice of charity with each groupon buy for a period of time… If you handle this right you may avoid being the next big Taco Bell chihuahua image crash.

    …You may have thought them attractive, and flattered by their attention, but frankly, you were led down a dark alley and dateraped by your charismatic charmer, cp+bgroup.

    Get yourself a morning after pill and fire their sorry asses. They never “got you.”

  • If you have to explain it then you didn’t do a good job of making a parody. Even as a parody, these fall short of the line and have simply pushed me away from the brand. Welcome to my never-buy list.

  • First, if you’re trying to reach people who don’t know about you (like myself), then you need to realize these people also don’t know you’re not completely insensitive **heads who are trying to promote the exploitation of the Tibetan people on top of the trouble their country already has. It took me coming to your website (yes… your ad worked in that sense) to find out that you make some semblance of effort toward supporting causes. However, your ad was a complete failure in getting me to patronize your website. I am here for the purpose of letting you know the ad campaign DID NOT WORK. Originally, I was going to make my feelings known about the Tibet ad, but I realize now that it was a poorly-thought out waste of millions of dollars (something completely contrary to your stated mission) that merely gave the impression you are completely insensitive **heads. Utter failure, groupon. Utter failure.

  • That’s the whole point….making human or natural tragedy all about me, me, me is wrong, wrong, wrong. You should fire that ad agency and whom ever approved those commercials in your company.
    Poking fun at yourselves like that is an INSIDER joke not to be shared with the outside, because no one gets it!
    How can I trust a company that makes such stupid decisions with my information and/or money? I can’t.

  • I find the Tibet ad to be in incredibly poor taste, exploiting a 50-year-old ongoing tragedy as it does. It makes Groupon participants look ignorant, selfish and greedy.The Tibetan people need their plight highlighted but not like this. Brush it aside as soon as someone waves a $15 coupon in your face. That’s the American way, isn’t it.

  • I did a brief post about this commercial when it aired and had so many responses that I have to think that your intended message was lost to most of the viewers. The ad was senseless, inappropriate and opportunistic. Had the ads been promoting the concept of saving money on the small stuff so you can use that money to help a larger cause, great. I understand that was the “intent”, but poorly executed and in very bad taste. The ads themselves not only made the celebrities seem petty, but also made me feel, as someone who (used to) use Groupon deals regularly, as though my desire to save money was also selfish and opportunistic, and ignorant. It portrays the people who take advantage of these group deals as shallow, insensitive idiots who care more about themselves than the world. And that happens not to be the case. But thanks for reminding me that I have a choice in the companies I deal with. Take a cue from Living Social guys, have some taste. They may be in your rear view mirror, but I’m not alone in switching to them exclusively after last night.

  • Usually I’m all for humor that pushes the envelope, but as others have noted the execution of these ads was way off.

    I didn’t really get that they were parody because it wasn’t quite broad enough (or deadpan enough). And while your chosen topics were questionable, I think you were also hurt by your choice of celebrity. It may have worked better with someone ridiculous, like a Kardashian or a Jersey Shore cast member. That way you could have kept a serious tone and we all would have instantly realized was intentionally absurd.

    So next time just have Snooki come out and talk seriously about the struggles associated with tanning and how you can get a groupon to make things better. That way it’s clear you’re parodying the type of commercial, and not the subject of those serious ads.

    Though people are talking about it, so I guess you win.

  • Your ads were highly effective….I’m in the camp of “lighten up” the ads were hilarious…but either way you got peoples’ attention and that is what advertising is all about!

  • Really amazing to me that you don’t see how this ad is offensive. Using real world suffering as a lead-in to sell your product?!? If this is what you call your “peculiar sense of humor,” I’m questioning the judgment of your company. I’d call it just plain clueless.

  • “The trouble was figuring out what to do and with whom to work. We had tried working with creative agencies before and had never been that impressed. Our peculiar taste in humor made it really hard for outside agencies to come up with concepts we liked. This time around, we had better luck with the ad firm Crispin Porter + Bogusky. We really admired some of the work that CP+B had done in the past, so we gave them a shot at pitching us concepts, and they came up with an idea we couldn’t resist blowing millions of dollars on.”

    Not only did you “blow” millions of dollars on your ads also “blow”. Obviously you just don’t get it, but the Tibetans do, they believe in karma and so do we…and “we” are a whole bunch of people.

  • You blew millions on this ad campaign and will match offended viewers donations up to $100,000? Wow. The good vibe I had from your service has soured. Sorry. I knew about these causes before I watched the Super Bowl and all you did was contribute to the decadence of the day by mocking them and trivializing them. You really should do some soul searching on this one.

  • There is no “lighten up.” Genocide is not a topic to be taken lightly, ever. Epic fail, Groupon.

  • This commercial is totally inappropriate….some executive should lose his/her job for approving this garbage! This is absolutely tasteless!

  • I’m canceling my subscription because of this tasteless ad. It show the caliber of people that are in control of my information at Groupon and that is not what I want.

  • For every negative comment that has been written, 1,000 others feel the same way but will not take the time to post….just remember that the next time you review your plans for such poor execution!

  • Your concept was NOT properly executed and when dealing with parody, you best know what you are doing because it can go bad wrong. (Remember the movie, When Mars Attacks? Tim Burton’s completely botched “parody”) Crispin Porter + Bogusky owes you a full refund, because they took you to waters they didn’t understand. In today’s world of instant reputation shifts, you have had your reputation completely tarnished. Twitter and facebook comments are off the hook bad.

    In today’s world of flock mentality when the flock turns the other direction, it is a daunting task to get them to turn back. I hope you have a brand expect on hand to help you attempt to regain your standing, because the social media (who tend to be very socially sensitive) have not only abandoned you, but have turned against you. Be thankful we are an ADD-addled society, and hopefully they will forget how upset they are today.

  • We’ve got fail. These ads are just not funny. I am discontinuing use of Groupon until they apologize about making light of the problems in Tibet. Being sarcastic about the obliteration of a culture is NOT funny.

  • I’ve only seen one ad so far, the one about Tibet. It was not funny, and if you do offer a sincere apology I will unsubscribe.

    What were you thinking?

  • Using genocide to pitch your product is disgusting. Wishing people would “lighten up” about what’s going on in Tibet and elsewhere in the world is a terrible, yet all-too-familiar, sign of the dumbing down of our society. I’d be wiling to bet the farm that less than 10% of Americans can find Tibet on a globe. Your ad does nothing to turn that around. Instead, you perpetuate the “all about me” culture that will be the true downfall of a caring, democratic society.

  • I was incredulous that GroupOn would run these ads. They went well beyond tacky to offensive and callous. To attempt to profit by making fun of a suffering people is low indeed. Unless you apologize for this, I no longer want to use GroupOn and I will encourage other people not to use it as well. What were you thinking!?

  • It came across as incredibly shallow and cynically mocking….it didn’t have to….you could have put your message across and also put in some social awareness making a lot more friends and far fewer critics…heads up!

  • The Tibet commercial was appalling. Gauche, stupid, and extremely unkind. I asked other friends: same reaction.

  • To believe that you didn’t consider all the hype that your ad would create is ridiculous. You had a great product – who talked you into selling out for more exposure? Tacky – enjoy your 15 minutes of fame and your profit from apathetic consumers.

  • I’ll say this: I have a sense of humor, and it can be a pretty twisted one. But with the context (or sheer lack thereof) of these commercials, all that came across was insensitivity. You guys know each other and your own motivations, so you know the ads were ironic. All we saw was a wealthy company airing million-dollar Super Bowl spots encouraging people to put their own interests before ecological and political tragedies. I “get” the attitude of the ads much better having read this blog post, but I still think they were in incredibly poor taste. I’ve unsubscribed from your service and won’t be using it again unless you pull the ads and issue an apology.

  • These ads were poking fun at the political correctness and obsessiveness that surrounds a lot of “Save the…” causes. They were NOT making fun of the causes. I thought that was pretty clear. These ads were genuis. Way to go, Groupon!

  • How tasteless. Your tactless ad depicting the systematic deconstruction of Tibetan culture as satire for your monetary benefit is appalling. Those of you who find humor in this are ignorant to history of Tibet and her people. The ad dehumanizes and devalues.

    I am embarrassed to be a part of this despicable company. I am sending a request to cancel and close my account.

  • You guys blew it! The two ads I saw offended me. Making light of the loss of whales and the plight of those struggling for freedom in Tibet was not funny. In some ways, you succeeded though because everyone is talking about how bad your ads were.

  • I have unsubscribed from your site. Your “explanation” is an excuse. Yes, you got attention, but I am also taking note of those involved and further intend to boycott any creative product from them as well. Shame on you. Karma is a bitch and I hope you will see that translated into lost revenues. You spent millions on the ad and are covering donations up to 3K??? You greedy @**!#!!!!

  • Really, really bad execution on a shaky concept. The following, for example, is better:

    Guy looking in window of agency at vacation package. Another guy gathers, then more. They talk about how they can’t afford it. Then they all go in and say “hey, if we all buy it, can we get a break?”

    Then the person behind the counter says “oh, sorry, you missed our Groupon” or “haven’t you heard of Groupon?”

    Throw in some one-liners in the conversation, make the people look interesting, and you’re done.

    That way, you tell people your message, and don’t end up pissing people off. The Hutton commercial made us all frown. When the Hurley ad came on, someone said “oh, is this more Groupon crap?” and turned off the television.

    Next time, spend the millions on relief for Tibetan refugees. Or do a Groupon where if people buy it for $15, you donate an extra $15 for said refugees. You really blew it, guys. Here’s hoping you can be less awful when you try again.

  • Your advert was in terrible taste. Conceptually it could have worked if you’d used a fictional issue, but dismissing Tibet for a groupon was a very silly move.

  • I thought the ads were tasteless and exploitative in the purest sense of the word. My opinion DID lighten up when I saw you were actually matching donations, but only in the sense that I no longer think you guys are a bunch of bastards. A simple line like “or if you go to groupon.com and donate $15, we’ll match your donations” at the end of the commercials would have made a WORLD of difference.

    As it is, I’ve been tempted to sign up recently, but I think now I’ll hold off for a month or two so you guys don’t get the wrong idea about whether your ad worked.

  • in the end you insulted your customers, as narrissistic fools. and you warned your prospects that there might be something wrong at groupon. so in a way, thanks for the warning!

  • @Cavanaugh:

    “As one friend said, your offer to match donations to those organizations (for a grand total of $3K) feels like lame damage control.”

    Go read those pages again: they’re matching up to $100,000 apiece. Not sure where you get the $3K from.

  • The commercials were horrible and left a bad taste in my mouth. They were so distasteful I might not buy groupon deals anymore.

  • Stephen (Colbert?) nailed it above. They just weren’t funny, especially in the context of the Superbowl. The also didn’t seem Christopher Guest enough. More Best In Show, less Cuba.

    Tibet does seem to be the kicker. I don’t think it’s actually insensitive as most of the audience probably doesn’t even understand the problem. It’s really just an odd choice, as non of the other “issues” can speak back (whales, rain forests) Did you consider teen prostitution? or maybe abortion?

    The whole white boy ironic humor thing plays out well in private but doesn’t translate on a mass scale.

  • “…we decided to give in to our Napoleon complex and invade the rest of the world with a proper Super Bowl commercial”

    I came to this site to understand how a product I love could produce such an insensitive ad campaign. There was no call to action in your ads. If you really wanted to support these causes, you would have included that information in your ads, not hidden it on your website.

    At the beginning of your commercial, I opened my mouth to say “I love Groupon.” By the end of the commercial, I was embarassed to admit I have an account. Very disappointing, Groupon.

  • Advertising is NOT all about grabbing people’s attention, it is acquiring attention and making sense.

    This campaign could have been executed SO much better and have been so much clearer.

  • I was deeply offended by your ads. When they started I thought what a great commercial, and then it went down hill. The humor is HIGHLY offensive. After reading your idea of what you Thought your commercial was conveying I still am like somehow you missed the mark. Your advertisement used the idea of poking fun at another countries, people, and cultures oppressions to BENEFIT American Consumerism. I missed how you were poking FUN at YOURSELVES. Millions of American’s and non-Americans viewed your commercial and I have read different responses on different sites. It is interesting to see that many individuals are offended by your commercial. I saw a quote on youtube saying “Millions of jews were murdered through starvation at Auschwitz… but that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy this GREAt brisket at Katz’s Delicatessen, thanks to Groupon! ” How does that make you feel?

    I am American and have lived over half my life overseas. Your commercial reminded me of why SO many people Hate what our Country and Citizens are about. I am highly disappointed, hurt, and angry at your ad. As a individual from a marginalized class in America, I wondered how Groupon really is HELPING. After I read your statement and saw that you donate to Causes that is great. BUT you need to think about how Words and depictions (in misguided humor) HURT the groups of people your company hopes will use it. All it did was appeal to bigots in the world.
    Suggestions: 1 After viewing the website for Crispin Et al I think you need to find a marketing group with a DIVERSE team of people. So other VIEWS can be depicted (not just White America), 2. What kind of staff do you have hired working with your company? I think the best company’s in the US let their employees have a say of HOW IT is Advertised and Represented 3. Somehow the above statement seems like and EXCUSE and not an apology for offending people. I think Groupon would WIN people back if you actually said we did not know this would be OFFENSIVE. 4. USE your REAL customers in your commercial saying what they have gotten from groupon in a humorous way. I LOVED my 1/5 off Barnes and Noble Coupon. But now, that groupon is the LAST thing I Buy from your company. Now I am a LIVINGSOCIAL.COM GIRL.

  • Completely absolutely inexcusably offensive– like, to the point where many people I know don’t want to use groupon anymore. Weird decision guys.

  • Just got offf the phone with a Groupon Rep. He was very pleasant, but the company line is “You’re too dumb to get the joke”. Believe me, that is BAD advertising, and a bad position. Groupon should do like I have just done, at got its money back from the ad company.

    Sad thing is that the ad company probably think that the controversy is great!

  • Terrible concept, terrible execution, and terrible excuse. Terrible, terrible, terrible. To think you spent that much money on hurting your brand.

  • An ad didn’t do it’s job if you have to either a) defend it or b) explain it. You are having to do both with these Super Bowl ads and I’m very disappointed in the actors who agreed to be in them. I have to wonder if they knew the whole concept when they signed up.

    I have also unsubscribed from your site and am encouraging all my friends, privately, to do the same. I won’t post it on Facebook nor provide any other free advertising for your company by telling everyone just how sad and tasteless your ads were. And just so we are clear, I have a fantastic sense of humor, very sarcastic at times, even a little dark, you missed the spot on all three counts, by a million miles.

    You went to the moon with these ads and never came back, you are that far out of the park and missed the mark by that much.

  • you honestly should be ashamed of yourselves. for some reason I had it in my head that you were responsible corporate citizens. TERRIBLE! you gave all of chicago a bad name.

  • I hope you guys didn’t go bankrupt over these ads because they were awful! Tasteless, smug and out of line. But hey, that’s a practice in advertising.
    What sickens me about the American people is that we just have to transform everything into a consumerist message.
    I doubt I will EVER use Groupon from now on.
    I’m disgusted by the lack of taste in these so-called high-end ads… Totally awful!

  • Not an impressive introduction. Missed the mark completely and offended portions of your target audience. My family has used Groupon before, and your service is good. Your money would have been better spent informing people about your product.

  • The ad exploited Tibetan sufferring. What is funny about Million Tibetans dying under China’s suppression. The ad was offensive and tasteless. Shame on you Groupon.

  • ‎”Millions of jews were murdered through starvation at Auschwitz… but that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy this GREAT brisket at Katz’s Delicatessen, thanks to Groupon!”

  • Congrats not only on a stupid and offensive commercial strategy but a completely tone-deaf response to complaint. Nice job.

  • Love the Liz Hurley spot. Very funny. You need Donald Trump to do one. He would definately want to Save the Money and is not, in my mind, associated with charity.

  • As the above-poster noted…that’s a lot of cash to spend to drive away customers. Hello LivingSocial!

  • I deeply agree with some of the previous comments:

    “You welcomed apathy. The worst enemy of action and something that plagues our society.”

    “The truth is that neither the joke nor the fact of your helping raise funds for the Tibet Fund was obvious at the first or even subsequent viewings of the commercial”

    You say it’s an attempt at self-deprecation, but it sounded a lot like cynicism and token at that. I appreciate the subsequent connection to the charities, but it was buried and your matching gift pales in comparison to your ad costs and the damage you did through the message. If anything I hope people see the reality of what such a selfish, cynical and apathetic attitude actually looks like and in their disgust with Groupon, they rebel against that pervasive worldview.

    It was enough for me. I unsubscribed and hope others do too.

  • Any one knows about history of Tibet? Any one knows where Tibet is? Any one knows the local language and actually talk to the local people? I think Tibetan and Chinese people both suffered from this issue. So please don’t make fun of both sides.

  • I’d like to note that as Tibet is a land-locked area, where lakes are sacred and rarely fished in, and curry is from India, Fish Curry is not a Tibetan dish. The suffering of a beautiful culture is not going to be made better by half off fish curry. Props for doing the donations but now Tibet Fund has to field a million calls on why they supported this naive advertisement. I’m not personally offended by this add but it just makes me wonder how this can be aired without proper research and without consulting even one person who may know more about Tibet then this ad agency does. It would have been as simple as a phone call.

  • I was appalled. I found it disgusting and indicative of the worst traits in American culture.
    I thought I shared your sense of humor – I’ve even been known to copy/paste quirky text from your site & share it with friends. This ad changed my feelings about you

  • Charlie O’Finley, owner of the major league baseball team, the Oakland Athletics, during his lifetime, once noted, ‘It is better to be known and disliked than not to be known at all.’ Well, you, Groupon, are now members of the Charlie O’Finley Hall of Fame. I thought it was just me that did not understand what on earth the purpose of the Tibet ad was. This site’s comments sure prove that was not the case! Beyond its lack of taste and dignity, it was just a dumb ad. And, while you may be sitting there smugly thinking that all the controversy is good, i hope you are ultimately proven wrong.

    Now, you’re offering a few hundred thousand dollars to charitable causes after blowing millions – millions – of dollars on your Super Bowl ads. If you had just stood in front of a camera and announced a $5,000,000 gift to support any one (or all three) causes and then just ran that announcement once in 15 seconds, you likely would have done better. Indeed, better luck next time….

  • Aaaaaand… unsubscribed. Well played, Groupon. Well played. The big winner in all of this? Living Social.

  • Seriously, you guys really went beyond tasteless ads, into mockery of atrocities. I will unsubscribe from your offers, and sign up somewhere else…

  • Shame on you for your shameless advertisement that trivializes human rights abuses in Tibet. People who buy groupons are not value-free, mindless drones in search of a good deal. I wish that I could cancel groupons that I have bought. I will certainly be unsubscribing from your site unless an apology is issued.

  • The best move here would be to step up and just admit that you made a bad decision and that the ads were completely out of line.

    Or you could keep trying to defend them and see where that takes you – I would predict more backlash and more of a PR disaster.

  • Unlike everyone else here, I get what you were trying to do. You were SAYING the people in the ads were tasteless. Clever. If people are so upset about the state of Tibet, why don’t they donate $100k? Seems like online bitching is as far as most people go.

    After all, you have done a lot of great philanthropic work (I loved DonorsChoose.org) and I will keep buying Groupons.

  • First thing I did this morning when I got to work was to unsubscribe–OK, in all fairness the FIRST thing I did was get coffee. But the very NEXT thing I did was to unsubscribe.

  • Incredibly offensive. Are you delusional at Groupon or just a collective of stupid people

  • I left the first comment last night… Looks like I was right.

    You’ll probably say we just “don’t get it”. You need to take a look in the mirror. not to mention your facebook page’s wall.

    I’ve spent hundreds with Groupon but no more unless a public apology is issued.

  • Great job pissing me, and the rest of America, off. You’ve lowered the probability of me buying another Groupon from 100% to less than 25%. Should have listened to your gut.

  • don’t know how this ad will impact your strategy in china, definitely not positively. just wondering how creativity is achieved without cultural/political awareness.

  • Yes – I agree. I think your ads were not very well received by audiences. I will not be using your services unless your CEO/president decides that some of the money gained from these ads goes directly to those you’ve exploited.

  • Simply tasteless. Yours will go down as one
    of the great advertising flops. I was a Groupon
    fan and frequent customer. No more.

  • Fantastic social commentary. Sadly the average person can’t understand multiple layers of meaning and are joining the “I’m offended” bandwagon. Instead of being offended at our own celebrity obsessed “it’s all about me” view of charity, they assume you are making fun of Tibet. Sorry you guys are having to pay for the inability of America to think deeply. I will continue to use your service, and applaud you for having the guts to do social commentary when everyone was expecting mindless entertainment.

  • Ads were in very poor taste. HOWEVER, so were all the other ones I saw…People hitting each other with pepsi bottles, beer bottles etc? What’s going on? I’m surprised people rag on Janet….her issue has been the least offensive to date.

  • Let’s be honest- most Americans care about Tibet in the most marginal and abstract way- if at all. So the outrage I’m hearing seems a lot like groupthink and hivemind indignation. Get over yourselves!

    Seems to me like most people commenting here would be 100 times more angry about something like not being able to find a parking space. Furthermore I bet less than 1% of these commenters will donate to the cause. Less than that number can find Tibet on a map (without Google’s help.)

    Great ad, Groupon & Mr. Guest- I will continue to use my account and encourage others to do the same.

  • Just two days BEFORE the Superbowl, without knowing about this assinine ad, I wrote to Groupon to tell them that the humor used on their website was extraneous, confusing, and unnecessary. They need to make amends to Tibet.

  • As others have said, good intent, poor execution. The intent may have been to highlight the issues in question, but it came off as if you were trivializing them; it reeked of the same sort of self serving insensitivity as the Kenneth Cole tweet about Egypt, even if the intent had been just the opposite.

  • While I can see why people are ‘offended’ and find the humor to be ‘tasteless’. I personally thought the approach to mocking PSAs was hilarious.
    By looking at the comments, when they were posted, and the severity of the response, this was definitely a snowball effect where things got worse as people fed off of each other rather than such a high level of offense to the commercial itself (though it was easy to miss the sarcasm intended by the severity of the actual Tibetan situation…you may have picked the wrong situation to try and make fun of American consumerism)

    I laughed at your commercials (especially the Whales and the Waxing ones), and I for one don’t plan on stopping my use of Groupon because your marketing team took a gamble and lost on a ‘shock-value ad’ that many took offense at.

    Public apology might be a smart move from a business standpoint, and it might be something that you (feeling completely misunderstood) might want to do on a personal level. But let’s be serious here…the real purpose of an apology would be the equivalent my mommy kissing my knee when i skinned it….there are so many people who want to be sure that they are on the right side of an argument that they are getting more enraged by reading more enraged comments…and they all have some skinned knees that might need some of your kisses.

    As for me…I do recognize the savethemoney donation page, and applaud you for those efforts
    (how dare anyone compare the cost of the commercial to the amount you are willing to donate and blame YOU for being insensitive or villainous when you are a company not an aid organization…thank you for your willingness to donate matching amounts to these organizations when you don’t actually have to…now go kiss some knees before you get another unsubscribe threat)

  • Your “particular taste in humor” let you down here and blinded you to the potential backlash created by these spots.

  • If you didn’t catch the donate part of the ad, get the Doritos out of your ears. Jaysus. I guess we Americans truly are morons.

  • I would bet most of the people expressing outrage are being extremely hypocritical. Have YOU ever done anything to help any of these causes? No? Didn’t think so.

  • In Groupon’s defense, I thought the other ads were funny. I just think Timothy Hutton isn’t a great actor, and wasn’t able to convey the sarcasm and humor like Cuba Gooding Jr. and others. It doesn’t matter what’s written in the script. If the performance is shoddy, the message won’t be conveyed properly.

  • I have never left a comment on a website before but I thought this has got to be my first.

    I thought these ads were hilarious and because I thought so dosnt mean I want to cut down the rain forest or kill all the whales.

    Get over yourselves people.

  • THANK YOU JULIE! It’s about time somebody put that to words.

    It certainly is easier to be on the bandwagon of ‘the offendeds’ than it is to see a mirror held up to what we value as a society.

    So many more people mad about Groupon and ‘Tibet’ now that there are others mad about it…and most of them had nothing to say about it yesterday, let alone have any clue where Tibet is actually located on a map.

    I love Groupon, and I’m not too pompous and self-involved to get the humor behind the commentary. Thank you Groupon for the deals you work out for us…AND for being willing to match donations to existing organizations as well.

  • The beauty about hindsight is things always seem so clear.

    With that said, there has to be a level of common sense given around any ad campaign, especially one that costs you ‘millions of dollars’.

    Your target market is to attract people who have not heard of Groupon before. These people do not know you or your comedic ways, and – I am going to make a wild assumption here – most likely do not understand these commercials were meant to be funny.

    I get the parody, but it fell short. One little statement at the end of each commercial would have made all the difference for me, and I am sure a million other people:

    A simple ‘Now take all that money you are saving by using Groupon and donate it to your favorite cause ‘. Done. You get to show your witty ways, the cause gets a little promo and people will understand the connection between the two.

    Instead, you get this. A blog post full of angry comments in addition to all the mud being thrown on your company on Twitter, Facebook and other socnets.

    Plus side, you did extend your brand awareness, just not sure these are the results you really want.

  • I have to admit. I thought they were the best commercials of the night. I admit that if my mother was a humpback whale, I might not have enjoyed the humor very much, but for the audience that they were probably trying to attract, I think it worked. Maybe just shouldn’t have aired it during the super bowl, because I have seen countless jokes on “Free Tibet” in TV and movies and never heard an outcry like this.

  • Lighten up, people. When else do you think the football masses would even hear of such good causes. The humor makes it relatable, accessible, and less stick up your a** self righteous rhetoric, which most of these people seem to be experts at. Have some fun, save some money save the planet, and if you don’t think its funny, make an appointment with your doctor to see about getting that stick removed.

  • The best part about these ads is how many people it revealed to be humorless twits.

    So special thanks to Groupon for allowing me to weed out the dimwits in my daily life.

  • The ultimate message – the message truly conveyed – is that the target consumer for Groupon is a self-centered elitist looking to make a deal on products and services determined trendy by superior style arbiters. The ad really brought it home – hence my canceled subscription.

  • It always seemed to me that Groupon thinks it is funnier than it actually is. (How many people do more than skim the humor bits of the deals pages each day? I’m in it for the deal, not the self-indulgent attempts at being funny. Groupon’s humor writers tend to favor multisyllabic words; maybe they think that makes them sound smarter?)

    These commercials couldn’t be more unfunny. Not just the Tibet one, either. They were awkwardly executed, too. The actors look uncomfortable. Maybe the content put them ill at ease, as it apparently did not the folks at Groupon.

  • Some people are saying “IT WAS SATIRE!!!” but uh. If that was satire, they failed at it majorly.
    It would have been so easy to flip it around and actually have the (intended?) meaning of the ad be a bit more obvious. Instead the ad just comes across as offensive.

  • I thought the spot was HILARIOUS. Between the excellent creatives and directions, trust your instincts and your partners, and don’t let the haters get you down. Besides, there could be an upside on both side. Firstly, maybe the Chinese won’t get the joke and think that you are actually on the same page as them with their Tibet policy, and second, with all the outrage, maybe the media will give the plight of the Tibetan people another couple of stories. Win / win if there ever was one. The key now is to make sure that the joke goes viral, Onion style.

  • One word: BRILLIANT.

    I laughed out load at the commercials – thought they were fantastic. People need to quit taking themselves so seriously.

    I came here for the sole purpose of bringing a little perspective to the blog and letting your marketing department know that I thought the commercials were great. Most of the people posting crap about unsubscribing/poor taste/blah blah don’t donate money to charities anyway, so don’t take it personally.

    Keep up the good work.

  • Really!….everyone is this angry ?

    Attention to charities I was not aware of..
    Promotion of a coupon site I knew little about…
    And an uncomfortable chuckle…
    I don’t know how I will sleep tonight

    Can we ease off the PC rhetoric ?

    It will all come out in the numbers for Groupon

    I hope your company will let us know if you have more customers or less after this.
    I just bought some cooking classes and a 1/2 price hamburger! Woohoo!

    The charities will have money they would not have had without this. Can we all hold hands and sing about that ?

    Relax people
    It’s a joke

    By the way, is that Justin Timberlake still around ? I understand he was part of something much worse for the fabric of america a few years back…I wonder what ever happened to him ?

  • I was just shocked by these ads. I’ll give you a chance to redeem yourselves…find some way to do it with an apology and lots more money thrown at your causes.

  • I guess it went over my head – or maybe I’m just not as eager to find fault. Either way, I think the charity work Groupon is doing is great – for Tibet, the whales, and anything else they are in for. I also LOVE what it is doing to my pocketbook. Honestly, Groupon leaves me more to give for charity.

  • I think Groupon was incredibly smart in this. Look at all the discussion and media frenzy. Really Superbowl watchers, who cares? They touched on the fact that Americans probably don’t care about what’s going on outside of their 25 mile radius and just want a good deal.
    I would love to see how many unsubscribes they received compared to subscribes this morning. I assume the $3 million was well invested because I am sure there were many that signed up for the blasts today to see what all the fuss is about.
    You’ve kept me as a loyal customer!

  • The point here is not what Groupon was trying to do with the ads – although I find the idea of explicitly pointing out that your customers are greedy and care more about saving money than saving the rainforest is an interesting marketing plan. The point is that what the ads actually did was enrage more people than they entertained. Of course, if the belief underlying the ad is true, then Groupon will gain plenty of additional business which will more than outweigh any business they lose and reinforce their approach. Again, it’s not that we don’t “get it”, it just wasn’t funny.

  • No, I don’t know as much about the Tibetan situation as I should. But, being an adult, I know it’s serious enough — and fresh enough — not to be made light of.

    Your ads didn’t make me laugh. They left me somehow both insulted and disgusted. Insulted because it seemed Groupon was laughing at me for enjoying ethnic food while people in Tibet suffer. Disgusted because Groupon was using this message to sell its own service. Whichever angle was the intended one, you ticked me off. I won’t be using your service now.

  • This is the worst kind of marketing. Do something you know that’s controversial, tasteless and offensive to get tons of attention. It’s lazy, stupid and you’ve exposed yourself as complete asses. It’s not about being PC it’s just about being a human being. If you’re not offended by this you need to take a long look in the mirror. There’s something wrong with you.

    Yes everybody’s talking about it today but now I’ll just remember you as the company that created the most offensive ad I’ve ever seen.

    Yes, I’ve donated to causes benefitting Tibet. Yes I can find it on a map. And yes, I’m offended enough that I will never use Groupon. There’s plenty of competition out there. It’s very easy for me to stop using Groupon and to encourage others not to.

    As easy as it is for you to brush off the “haters” and say it was only a joke. Yeah, well . . . not funny.

  • Your Super Bowl ads, especially the one focusing on Tibet, were completely tasteless. Using humor to draw attention to the absurdity of a horrific occurrence is often successful, but Groupon failed to do so. Instead, your ads promote selfish and ignorant behavior. If you were attempting to be ironic or “poke fun at yourselves” as you claim, you were mistaken to believe that the Super Bowl audience would understand. Your message “save money” essentially told millions of people to not care about saving Tibet, the rainforest etc. Maybe Groupon believes that bad press is better than no press, and I am hesitant to draw more attention to it, but I believe there should be a public outcry that we will not stand for this kind of humorless trash from what has otherwise been a great service. Groupon should publicly apologize to the Tibetan people, and instead of donating money only when customers do, they should take at least a portion of the millions spent on their disgraceful commercials and donate it to Tibet.

  • I love your service, and I’m not really offended by the ads. But I think your management is mistaken about the importance of humor to your brand. And I don’t mean the ads – I’m talking about your coupon emails.

    When I open one of your emails, I want to make a buy/don’t buy decision as QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE. Corny puns and wordy shtick just get in the way.

    So please, leave all of your fun off-beat office humor in your fun off-beat offices.

  • I found the ads to be offensive and in poor taste. Worse though, is your company’s defense of the campaign -i.e. “We’ll match $100,000 in donations”. The problem is that you spent a reported $3 MILLION on the Super Bowl airtime. Your matched donations are chump-change in comparison. Just terrible.

  • Groupon (if you are still listening)
    You definitely messed up. I feel you were trying to do something good but you missed the mark entirely. It seems some heads should roll. I believe I join many other people when I say you do not have my support until you make meaningful amends. To those on this forum calling other stupid for not getting the joke, why do you have to get nasty and name call? It is uncalled for.
    Zeke

  • Plain and simple, you guys failed and your ad agency failed you.

    If you have to resort to your support team sending out emails to explain your point of view is reason #1 why this did not work. How were we to know anything about the charitable side of Groupon from these ads? If I was not already a user of the site and the commercial was my first experience with you, then no matter how altruistic your intentions, your message was lost.

    You failed.

  • I felt like they crossed the line because they seemed to equate saving a few bucks with issues that involve real human suffering or the sustainability of our society.

    When put in that perspective, your ads came across as trite and ignorant.

  • Nice! I have a friend who works for BuildOn and it’s a great organization.

  • Someone who were smart enough to come up with Groupon, is not stupid enough to not knowing that these are highly sensetive causes that is brought up in these commercials, and we all should give them the benefit of doubt.

    If you want to slay the dragon, why not go for the companies that truly exploit nature and developing countries – like Coke and Pepsi?

    It is so extremely typical American behavious. All of these peope who in a glimpse of a second suddenly feel strong about freeing Tibet, even though they have not donated a single cent, or been advocates for the cause earlier.

    Well, it looks good I guess, in social media, to care about these issues and pretend that you have for a while.

    I forgive you Groupon, and I actually thought they were kind of funny, but just kind of.

    I hope people get over themselves, and step down from their high horses, and start donating or do something good for the world, instead of slaying the wrong dragons.

  • Offensive and insensitive and it’s NOT FUNNY.

  • Totally blew it with the Tibet one. I’m not going to waste my time watching the others. I hope you realize how many of us customers you’ve lost as a result of this.

    It isn’t that some of us don’t have a sense of humor. It simply wasn’t funny. And there was no mention of charity, etc. involved. In the future I’d consider another ad agency and that you’re sure you let go the employees directly involved in this farce.

  • I thought the ad was great. It brought attention to the Tibetan people. That was it’s point and as I have said on Facebook, if it was just another PSA, nobody would be talking about it today. But now, there are many people on the internet searching the word “Tibet” and perhaps for the first time hearing about the plight of these peaceful and spiritual people. Sometimes you have to get in someone’s face (so to speak) and get them pissed off, to maybe, just maybe take action. If this ad has done anything to motivate people to donate to the Tibetan Fund then it was worth it! Well done.

  • See, when you say this:

    “The gist of the concept is this: When groups of people act together to do something, it’s usually to help a cause. With Groupon, people act together TO HELP THEMSELVES by getting great deals. So what if we did a parody of a celebrity-narrated, PSA-style commercial that you think is about some noble cause (such as “Save the Whales”), but then it’s revealed to actually be a passionate call to action TO HELP YOURSELF (as in “Save the Money”)?”

    ALL CAPS for emphasis by me….

    It’s not a parody of celebrities. It’s a mockery of real charitable causes. You didn’t parody yourself, you parodied the vulnerable.

    That is where you lost me.

  • I “get” the joke and I think the Tibet ad is disgusting. I think you were going for controversy and I really hope it doesn’t pay off for you.

  • This really hit some nerves. There must be truth in the message. People really are more interested in saving money than promoting the causes they claim to believe in.

    The level of indignation is so typical of knee jerk reactions in today’s society. The tempest in the teapot will work out well in the end for Groupon and the causes you support and promote.

    I love what most people seem to have missed in your message:
    “If you save so much money that you feel like saving something else, donate to the four mission-driven organizations below. Groupon is matching donations to make sure they can save the money too.”

    I didn’t know about Groupon until this silly reaction. Now I am intrigued!

  • For God’s sake, lighten up people. It was a commercial. During the Super Bowl. Get over yourselves. I personally thought it was hilarious. So tired of this ultra-PC society we live in.

  • ouch…such a missed opportunity. I feel for you…but not that badly in that this was a totally foreseeable outcome.

    You’ll be fine in a week. America generally doesn’t give a shit about Tibet anyway or we wouldn’t buy billions in Chinese goods.

  • Simply put- your Tibetan ad makes me feel like a spoiled, penny-pinching, overly-greedy American for using your product – while others (namely – as your ad points out – Tibetans) suffer with hardship that makes saving a few dollars seem trivial in the scheme of things. If that was your goal with ad – GOOD JOB!

  • Unlike most, I’m not offended by your commercials as an emotional and concerned person.

    I’m offended by your commercials as a creative person.

    Crispin is a fantastic agency, but holy cow what a misfire this was. Bad idea and bad execution.

    Your company is so great. This tv campaign is abysmal.

  • I think you don’t know the meaning of the word “parody.” The POV of your message is “eff them, help yourself.” Might be funny in some sort of context, but not in a commercial.Not where the goal is for the viewer to like you.

    Instead of telling everyone they missed the joke, you might want to fess up to the major screw up and start working your butt off to get your customers back.

  • Yes, silly Groupon and CP+B, someone should have reminded them that our insatiable desire for more stuff at cheaper prices doesn’t look so benign when viewed along side some of the real challenges facing the world.

    They should have at least promised to donate $5 to Tibet for every groupon redeemed. That way we wouldn’t have to think about how our desire for more & cheaper stuff has kept us from seriously confronting China about their systematic destruction the Tibetan people and culture.

    Kudos, dudes. Best ad of the night!

  • I think the worst part of all of this is that the majority of reactions are reduced to

    “I’m so offended, I’ll never use your product or service again!”

    and not

    “I can’t believe how much you’ve made me want to stop buying useless stuff! I’m so offended by my life of opulent luxury that I’m donating all my extra coupon-buying-money to free Tibet and save the rainforest!”

    Dear People who are Offended. Why are you offended? Is it because the world is going to hell, or is it because the world is going to hell and you don’t like being reminded that you do absolutely nothing to prevent it? If you took even an ounce of the vitriol you’re spewing at Groupon, and demanded that your Government took a stand against the oppression of the Tibetan people, or against the desecration of the rainforest, those problems would be fixed.

    Don’t you get it? You’re hypocrites because you’re only offended insofar as you feel made fun of for wanting useless stuff. You don;’t really care about Tibet, or the rainforest. You care about DEALS.

  • For those that think people who are upset about this just “don’t get it,” I urge you to read Whet Moser’s comments on the Chicago Magazine blog. Sums up some of the more reason-headed objections to the Tibet ad better than I could here:

    http://www.chicagomag.com/Chicago-Magazine/The-312/February-2011/The-Groupon-Super-Bowl-Ads-Anatomy-of-a-PR-Disaster/

    Many of us “get” that it was intended to be satirical in nature but still fell it missed the mark. Truth be told, I actually fell it hit the mark a little too well. We are a consumerist-obsessed society that gives little regard for what driving everything down to the bottom dollar actually “costs” us in the long run. My question after viewing the ad is why do I want to support something like Groupon that just perpetuates that type of system?

  • So I have done the research and get the point of the ads, but regardless they were still tasteless how they were done. Maybe if you had included something at the end actually letting people know that through Groupon they could donate to the causes then they would not have been such an epic fail. The thing that I find truly insulting is spending millions and only donating $100,000. If you are going to use someone for your own gain at least give them a better cut. I am not sure if I am going to stop using Groupon. I am going to wait and see how you respond to the pubic’s comments. I love Groupon so please correct your blunder.

  • Note to the dummies at CP+B, if you are going to remind us about something real and unpleasant in the world, you are supposed to make us feel all better about it by the end of the commercial. I mean, Duh.

  • I write letters.

    Last night minutes after watching those ads, i emailed groupon, about what astonishing bad taste those ads were. Got a reply that is basically a synopsis of what is posted above….”sorry you were offended (notice, not sorry for having bad judgement or anything) donating money, blah blah, we’re really poking fun at ourselves! blah blah.”
    responded with this:

    “While a appreciate your diligence and damage control, i still feel as though the basic spin on this apology is to intimate that either i (and many other people, from the sound of it) sufficiently lack a sense of humor, or just didn’t understand the point of the joke.
    I don’t think i fit into either category. I thought many other superbowl ads were funny last night, even ads which might be in questionable taste. This series did not affect me that way. Presenting the very real, very serious subjects, in the way you did to open the spots, didn’t set us up for the punchline and they just ended up sounding mean spirited and insensitive.

    I can’t say this inspires confidence. Comes off like fail.”

    off to unsubscribe…

    sigh

  • Your Tibet Ad was a shameful exploitation of the dire conditions that Tibetans live under everyday. What were you thinking? How is it okay to use Tibetans suffering even in jest to promote Groupon? #BOYCOTT

    Make a puiblic apology, fire your ad agency and your head of marketing, and donate the cost of the Superbowl ad to the Tibet Fund. This is the very least you can do to make amends to the Tibetan people.

  • Finally.

    A company that dares the levels of human intelligence. It’s as if your harshest critics forgot they were watching football-er-AMERICANIZED FOOTBALL. A sport that has done so much its fans watching the Super Bowl and caring for Tibet. Not only was it great advertising, it jabbed at a majority’s intelligence. Which in itself is the reason why the naysayers have attacked Groupon. I guess they don’t want to save money. More for us to save.

    Brilliant marketing.

    Andy Whorehall

  • I can handle rather sick humor, but felt the Tibetan ad was totally tasteless. Completely out of line and hard to support you after seeing these commercials yesterday.

  • @Josh … do you work for Crispin? Or, by chance do you work in advertising?

    By the way they aren’t haters. There are a lot of peeps that found the ad(s), mainly the Tibetan ad, offensive. Please learn the difference between “hate”, “dislike” and “tasteless”. : )

  • CJE’s comment pretty much sums it up… “Relax people, it’s a joke.”

    Problem is, not everything IS a joke. And sometimes it’s hard to laugh at the joke when it’s at the expense of someone who was killed for standing up for their right for free speech. Not that funny really.

    Groupon’s statement says… “The gist of the concept is this: When groups of people act together to do something, it’s usually to help a cause. With Groupon, people act together to help themselves by getting great deals. So what if we did a parody of a celebrity-narrated, PSA-style commercial that you think is about some noble cause (such as “Save the Whales”), but then it’s revealed to actually be a passionate call to action to help yourself (as in “Save the Money”)?”

    So, it’s a parody of a commercial for a noble cause? Do you understand the whole idea of parody? Shouldn’t we really be doing a parody of the people causing all the pain in Tibet, rather than the people trying to help?

    It’s not that we don’t get what you’re trying to do, Groupon. It’s that we DO get it and we think it sucks.

  • At least Google, Facebook, etc etc started off without huge hubris before the muck filled their ears and made them socially tone deaf.

    But you guys are starting off with completely offensive messages, and you dont even get it.

    I guess you’ll be laughing all the way to the bank, but wow, really sad.

  • I have to agree with others is that the big error of these ads is that they don’t make it clear that there’s an actual money-raising aspect to this. I didn’t even know about the “savethemoney” website until I saw a CNN story on this. Otherwise, I’m afraid the irony was directed at the wrong audience – you might have gotten away with it on Funny or Die, but the Super Bowl audience was the wrong venue for that sort of humor.

  • The usual way these types of ads play out is that they point out something serious and heart-tuggingly tragic going on in the world and then make some totally facile “karma offset” kind of connection like “we’ll donate $5 for every blah, blah, blah.” Which only has the effect of settling us deeper in our complacency and self satisfaction. Vindicating our place in the whole equation, i.e. “the consumer” and relieving us of the burden of any genuine sense of responsibly for what goes on in the world.
    Great ad. And funny too. “…but they still whip up a heck of a fish curry.”

  • What’s REALLY offensive is how Americans invest so much of there mental energy into Ads.

    Isnt it just a bit terrible complaining that a company uses the problems in Tibet to try and sell you something and the overridding issue comes down to the fact they arn’t selling it to you effectively enough?

    Ok, the Ads were not for everyone. I thought they were funny and as someone who has never heard of Groupon, I’m impressed they’ve been able to make a noise has made it over the Atlantic.

    So. They worked. They’ve raised Groupons profile for sure.

    Anyway. The sad fact it, this issue seems to highlight Americas obsessions with consumption, to the point people become outraged something is not sold effectively enough to them.

    How about you divert your attention to a more pressing cause?

    I hear there are problems in Tibet.

  • Many of the posters to this board need to take a cultural sensitivity chill pill. The ads ran during the Super Bowl – not the State of the Union address or State Funeral. 90%+ of all SB ads are supposed to be funny. You may not like the humor (that is your right) but you need to spare everyone your moral outrage. Of course, you could constructively channel it by going to Tibet to help.

    If a company could just bottle the disproportionate sense of moral outrage in this country at even the slightest politically incorrect message, they’d have a market cap bigger than Groupon’s!

  • Oh my goodness…love to see the hypocrisy come out! I have no doubt that all the people freaking out about the ads (which really were quite funny) are deeply and passionately committed to helping the Tibetan people by…ummm…complaining about Super Bowl ads. As opposed to doing something constructive, such as, I don’t know, matching contributions to a number of worthy causes like Groupon is doing.

    Perhaps next week Groupon could offer a deep discount on clues, so some of the people on here could finally afford one. :)

  • Great ads. It is hilarious to see people wanting to boycott Groupon over this. How about directing some of that moral outrage towards consuming less and helping some good causes?

    Hopefully this will continue to shine a light on excess consumerism and a world that fakes morality.

  • This is what happens when arrogant children run companies – both client and agency.

  • After this year, I suggest you continue to “holdout” on the commercials…you clearly suck at it. Never knew about “Groupon” and I’ll never use it in the future; I’m sure others won’t either after this debacle.

  • It’s a sign of the times that people are horribly offended by commercials, but can’t get the energy to be offended by real issues. For every person that worked up the moral outrage to comment here, there’s probably (at least) one that didn’t know anything about Tibet until these commercials ran.

    Get a grip, folks.

  • Emotional and sociopolitical underpinnings aside, those of thought this ad should have gone back to basics in Advertising 101. What I mean is there clearly was no thorough research done here. Let’s get some facts straight…….

    Firstly, believe me, being a 100 % pure Tibetan myself I can assure you “fish curry” is not something you will see on an authentic Tibetan menu. Look up Tibet on the map, it’s no where near any ocean, it’s high in the mountains. So, fish is not a staple food.

    Secondly, I have been to the restaurant you mentioned in your ad, and again, being a Tibetan I can say with full confidence that there is nothing on their menu that screams Tibetan, so to imply it as one is a total misnomer. Enough said.

    Secondly, I have been to the restaurant you mentioned in your

  • Hey, Groupon, you just can’t run this ad and the rainforest ad and just explain it away, like it was all some subtle joke and, even more disingenuous, like you were actually ribbing yourself all the time and oh you can prove it because you started as a non-profit social justice company. I’m waiting for a REAL apology. Until then: no Groupons for me, and I’m encouraging all my Facebook friends and all of my colleagues to boycott Groupon for now. And by the way I think that directing us to a site where WE can make a donation that you will match is cynical in the extreme. Your problem. You fix it.

  • Wow Groupon. I, like most people, do not have the time to put into understanding this whole campaign and what you are truly doing to support said causes; say the Tibetan one for example. I barely even read through this thread. And I’d imagine that your Creative/Advert. directors would know this.

    I really appreciate edgy advertising as I am an advertiser myself. But I found this distasteful beyond my comfort level. I felt a bit sad about it.
    But lets see what happens with your sales because when it is all said and done, people are talking about you none the less.

  • My girlfriend and I were cracking up. We knew you’d get slack for this on the Internet from all these P.C. weenies. Honestly, I’ve said the word GROUPON more in the last 24 hours than I’ve said in the last 24 days! Groupon FTW.

  • Thank God for you, Andrew Mason! I was not aware of the pressing issues facing the Tibetan people until I saw Groupon’s genius ad campaign – and way to go with Timothy Hutton, I have no idea how you managed to wrangle him.

    It’s so enlightening when an individual with such a long track record of philanthropy can open my eyes to brand new causes to support. As a red, white and blue American, I had never even heard of Tibet before the Megabowl (go figure). And I love it how you influenced me in such an oblique way – it wasn’t long after I made my donation to your pet fund that I realized how your ad cleverly induced me to be a more generous philanthropist. Kudos, Andrew! A CEO with such a great sense of humor and satirical wit should really appreciate this genuine compliment. Give me a call sometime, let’s go save some Tibetans.

    Yay Groupon!

  • Seriously? I didn’t watch the Superbowl. i heard about the ads and thought the campaign sounded clever, although potentially over the top. I clicked over to watch the ads for myself, to be informed — figuring with my twisted sense of humor, I’d be one of the people defending yours. However, the ads themselves are utterly, inexcusably dismissive OF the causes. They demonstrate the very attitude that is counter productive to the world at large… dismissive, self-centered, vapid ignorance that is already all too common. If your target market was vacant or drunk people in their early 20′s, you probably nailed it. If so, we can only hope there aren’t enough of them to keep your company in business or make Sarah Palin our next president.

  • Most good people will not trade conscience for a good deal. The point you are making here was totally lost in the ad. This is what happens when a group of people living in a bubble of their own “unique” humor create something in their own bubble.

    To suggest [in the comments] that people who didn’t “get it” are not smart enough to “get it” is plain arrogance and does not get the purpose of a 30 second tv ad. If it needs to be explained, it does not serve it’s purpose.

    This is one rare case where any publicity is good publicity does not apply. This is truly ethically bad and a big publicity disaster for a promising up-and-coming company. A mistake is not easily undone because believe it or not, the same dumb people who did not get the ad are not going to take the effort of trying to get to know the people behind the company and will be annoyed to see Groupon in the sender’s column in their inbox.

    I, for one, cannot ethically spend any money on Groupon, not matter how good the deal is.

  • What Groupon Fangs said. I wonder if those who are outraged are doing anything about issues such as Tibet and the Whales? And clicking on “Like” on some Facebook “Save the Whales by clicking Like” doesn’t count.

    I didn’t see the ads during the Superbowl, but by today the only ads I’ve heard about are groupon, so I watched them. I get why people are upset and I get why they were funny. It takes a special kind of humor to get the ads, and not many people have that.

    I still like Groupon and will still use the site. I hope you prove that there is no such thing as bad publicity.

  • Dreadful. Congratulations for excluding yourself from the world’s biggest marketplace.

    After the event you try to pretend you ran these ads to promote charity giving? Give me a break. You ran these ads to make money and you screwed up. You managed to offend every side of the argument.

    It was a tasteless stunt and if you were honest cut the corporate crap and took responsibility you would just say the obvious word “Sorry”.

    You want take a long walk and look back yourselves.

  • count me on the ‘huge misstep’ side. really bad idea and i can’t imagine so many people looking at it and telling themselves they made something cool. mass delusion. it’s tasteless.

  • Us Americans doth protest to much.

    100% of you take advantage and are complicit in the harm and distruction of many cultures and other species.

    90-98% Have donated absolutely nothing to society and have provided a few hours of charity from years of living.

    These ads highlight what you do everyday and the jokes you know that have laughed at in privacy.

    Good humor makes you laugh at tragedy or things that you are uncomfortable with and makes you confront it.

    HOW MUCH MONEY HAVE YOU WHINERS CONTRIBUTED TO THE WHALES OR TIBET,UH?

    Besides, this is brillant marketing…

    I am probably not the one to comment on this anyway because my favorite thing to say is:

    true enlightenment is the ability to laugh at the misfortune of others.

  • Groupon,

    You have heard from us – the public.

    What is your response?
    You are unusually quiet.

  • It appears that Groupon is now censoring the comments! This is the 2nd thing you have in common with the Communist Government of China.

    Whoever is reviewing this post, the Politbureau will match your Groupon Salary, plus they will give you 20 Yuan’s worth of general Tso’s chicken for 10 Yuan in their downtown Beijing Censor’s Office cafe.

  • Ah — the ads were an in-joke. I don’t care — they were still quite tone-deaf and inappropriate since only you and those few with similar senses of humor got the joke. For most people I’ve talked with, the ads were completely offensive. You’re new to business, but you always must beware of thinking people will get your private jokes. You may have increased name recognition, but not in a way that is useful to the world or to you — I know a lot of folks who are turning away from Groupon because of those ads.

  • I will do everything I can to ensure that nobody I know ever purchases from your site again. Making light of some of the most heart-wrenching disasters facing our world today is despicable.

    I am hardly a bleeding-heart, however your advertising has irreparably struck me as irresponsible and I can no longer fathom supporting you or your advertisers.

  • Before I jump the gun, can you tell me what the Dalai Lama had to say about your ad? … What’s that? You never ran it by his office? …. Well, what about the focus group that saw it? … Is that right? Didn’t do one. Hmm … Well, what feedback did you get from the network guys that approved the ad? … What? You never asked for their thoughts? … Then it seems to me all the scorn is well deserved. Sorry Groupon. It’s not that ad viewers missed the parody angle; it’s that you messed up on the basics.

  • This is an example of a good idea destroyed by horribly bad execution. While I do understand their intent with these ads, Crispen Porter really missed the mark. The execution was badly flawed, so instead of the ads being ironic, they just came across as crass.

  • You’ve made the first mistake in marketing – it’s not about what YOU like in advertising. It’s about what your audience likes.

  • It appears that a number of your customers would hate Mark Twain !

    I, on the other hand, think your wit and humanitarian spirit are simply marvelous.

  • You’d better get a new ad firm. You really blew it big time with those insulting ‘commercials’. No way to recover from that one! Don’t look for me at your checkout counter! :-P

  • And on Tuesday, the ads are still running? wow, I thought you’d at least suck it up and stop running them. But no, you’re going to stick to your guns.

    Not being able to admit you have a problem is the first step in not knowing you have a problem . . .

  • Agree with a number of people -it’s not that we didn’t get it… we don’t like it. It’s the impact-not the intent that is important when you offend. Explaining your intent is interesting — but not helpful or sufficient if you plan to continue to run these types of ads, and if you do not really apologize. I too plan to unsubscribe-sad as a new user I was just starting to see a few good deals.

  • Andrew Mason:

    There is no defense including a lame attempt at humor that justifies exploiting Tibetans to promote Groupon. I’m stunned by how out of touch Groupon’s management team. Do you not have any common decency and can you not understand without being defensive what a terrible mistake the Tibet ad was? Drop the Tibet ad, period. Offering to match contributions to the Tibet fund up to a $100K shows how little you value the deaths of 1,000,000 Tibetans under China’s suppression. You raised $900M of new capital in January but yet you won’t give a dime unless its matched. #TASETELESS #STINGY #BOYCOTT_GROUPON

  • And in one afternoon, you brought millions of head-in-the-sports-pages, narrow-world-viewing people a sense of awareness, and you did it through irony, humor, and wicked wit.

    Well played, Groupon.

  • I thought the Tibet commercial was BY FAR the best commercial during the superbowl. It was hilarious and why is it that people have forgotten to laugh? It is ok to do stuff like this on SNL on Saturday night, but not ok at 6pm on a Sunday?

    I read that an estimated 111 million people watched the Superbowl. Even if half of the people watching were offended, that is still 55 million potential customers, so I would say ‘bravo’. You did what you were hired to do which is advertise.

    Finally, to everyone SO utterly offended by these ads – how many of you have ever donted to these causes? I am sure less than 5% of you b/c you spend your time more upset about commercials. And if you go on and donate to the causes now, we well-played again Groupon. Well-played.

  • Loved them! Stick with your guts, people have blown this out of proportion…The ideas were perfectly conceived of and delivered. The naysayers obviously have no sense of humor and take themselves too seriously to be able to poke fun at themselves saving the money and not the whales, etc.

  • I agree with all the others here who find your commercials in poor taste and completely offensive. I’m even more saddened to think that someone like Timothy Hutton, whom I had previously admired as an actor, would stoop to being in these commercials. I also think the Elizabeth Hurley ad is offensive, though no one is talking much about that here. I wonder if either of these stars will openly or privately regret their decision to appear in these horrible ads.

    Perhaps, in creating these ads, you were going for that SNL-commercial vibe, in which there are some great, great parodies of products and of advertising in general (Happy Fun Ball, for example). But see, that’s a comedy show and this is real life, with the desired outcome of your ads being people spending their money on your product. Maybe your company fails to recognize the difference.

  • God bless you, Groupon. Sometimes you need to take a lot of heat to do the right thing, and you are dong just that.

    (Please ignore the attacks by those who don’t want their indulgent habits associated with strife in remote places – places your company is helping).

  • Ugh. Seriously, Groupon? Man. What a bummer. Now I feel as if, if I use Groupon, that I’m this really selfish insensitive douche who cares more about getting good savings for my middle-class privileged ass than I do for those less fortunate who need our help and support right now. It would feel as if I’m trivializing their pain whenever I use Groupon. I know it’s not the effect that you intended, but… I didn’t intend to ever support a business that would do something so… stupid. Man. Thanks for ruining Groupon for me. What a bummer. I hope you guys choose to make it right, so I can go back to enjoying Groupon again.

  • Great Ad! Very funny. I’m sure no reasonable person thinks Timothy Hutton or Groupon believes Tibet and saving money on dinner belong in the same conversation… and that’s why it’s funny. Unfortunately, it’s usually the “I’m too concerned with my own self image so I must show how deeply I care for other people’s problems” are the people who usually post on these things. Fortunately, I was bored enough and interested enough to check this site out and stick up for the people who have a since of humor and a little intelligence.

    P.S. If you are now saying to yourself, “I have a since of humor, but am still offended.” Just know that most people “think” they have a since of humor. It’s the people who have to defend their lack of since of humor are the ones who do not.

  • I agree with all the other posts, I am a new user to Groupon and after seeing the commercials I as well feel that it comes across as highly insensitive. If you had added that you support the causes then Id understand, but saying not all “deforestation is bad” shows a lack of compassion for our environment. I will choose not to purchase any further Groupons until active changes are made to correct this. It’s not funny what is going in our world, and cracking puns about it is like cracking a pun about religion or politics, you just shouldn’t go there.

  • Absolutely the worst advertising campaign hands down.
    Very tacky.

  • I used to be a fan of Groupon and recommended my friends to sign up, but I won’t be anymore. I’ve seen two of the commercials, the Tibet one during the Super Bowl and tonight, the Brazil waxing one. I thought both commercials were equally tasteless. Ok, so Groupon has a tiny little blurb about giving to charity, only once you save enough money on superficial things like eating out and waxing your undercarriage…but it comes off as an add-on and real crass. I feel the commercials were supposed to be an attention grabbers, but I think it got attention for all the wrong reasons. I would think Groupon would have just pulled this campaign after the Super Bowl, but no. You guys have the moxie to keep this going. Wow, really?

    Is this the face a company wants a new audience to see? I mean, Groupon is trying to get new customers right? The ones who watch TV and are less internet savvy? I feel this was totally the wrong way to do it. Yeah, it was a parody, but it wasn’t funny and it made light of serious issues. It also made me think how insignificant it was for me to save 50% on my restaurant bill…maybe as a spoiled American, I should give to charity more. If I see a Groupon I want, maybe instead of giving Groupon $30, I should give it to charity instead. Or else I feel like I am a selfish American, who doesn’t care about issues in the world.

    I am not sure if Groupon can see how this backfired, but I sure can. I need to take your daily deals off my email now. I did enjoy your deals, but you seem to be the type of people who’d laugh when baby seals get clubbed, because you can save the money buying some baby shower invites with golden seals at your local stationery store. Yuck.

    The only parodies I like that involve Groupon are the ones Conan does that make fun of you. :) I can’t really serious use your service now. It’s sort of sad because I liked your company a lot.

  • Disgusting, offensive, tone-deaf, cruel-humored, spiritually corrupt.

    A few words that come to mind regarding your commercials and that are now the words I equate with the company.

    You have killed your brand. GG listening to your agency.

  • For God sake’s America , Lighten up!. We take ourselves way too seriously

  • Next ad should have tiger woods promoting half over divorce lawyers or oj Simpson promoting discounts on knifes. You destroyed your brand in one big bang with the Tibet superbowl ad. Your explanation on the the supposed humor of the ads further reveals how insensitive and arrogant your marketing team is. Oj Simpson would be a great brand ambassador for you.

  • These ads didn’t “make light” of the issues, they are drawing attention to them. I love the campaigns they’re running, and the matching programs for raising funds for these causes. Let’s ask the Rainforest Action Network, Greenpeace, buildOn, and the Tibet Fund what they think.

    That we are talking about this at all is a great thing, and I appreciate Groupon’s sense of humor AND charity.

  • Loved the ad’s. You folks on these message boards are way to sensitive as if you guys really cared about the folks in Tibet all of a sudden. If you really did care you would have some kind of organized protest against Chinese food or something equally stupid. Worse than some high school rich bitch blonds + OMG some one made a funny and because I am insecure I am gonna tell them how insensitive they are to my needs.

    I dont see the Tibetans freaking out anywhere.

    Get the sand out of your collective vaginas and drink some yak milk. Calm down!

    Groupon – Keep it up that was really funny to those of us that arnt hypocrites. I was in a huge room of folks and we all laughed.

  • You really make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find this matter to be really something that I think I would never understand. It seems too complex and extremely broad for me. I’m looking forward for your next post, I’ll try to get the hang of it!

Comments are closed.