Over 111 million viewers watched Super Bowl XLV this past Sunday making it the most watched program in American television history. Equally famous to the big game are the 61 commercials chosen to air during the Super Bowl itself. Some commercials were fantastically thought out and touching, like the Volkswagen spot featuring Mini Darth Vader. Others were flat out hilarious like the Doritos commercial, for me competing for the funniest spot since last year’s Doritos ads.
One commercial that completely missed the target in humor and in likeability was Groupon’s Tibet commercial. The $3 million, 30-second ad begins by mentioning how the people of Tibet are suffering and “their very culture is in jeopardy.” Then comes disaster. Groupon followed that statement by shamelessly boasting that you can get $30 worth of Tibetan food for just $15 at a restaurant in Chicago using a coupon from their site. Distasteful right? Groupon obviously didn’t think so. They defended their advertising choice in their company blog.
“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”)?,” they said.
After reading through their reasoning for choosing that kind of risky ad, I understand what angle they wanted to take. It actually makes sense. Help someone else or help yourself. What Groupon failed to mention was that they fans of both options. They had set up a donation page for the Tibet Fund on the Groupon website. I think they would have saved themselves the huge backlash if they had simply included their website tag line in their commercials as well. A voiceover during the “Groupon.com” portion of the commercial could have said, “If you save so much money that you feel like saving something else, donate to the four mission-driven organizations below.” Then the website could have popped up under the Groupon logo.
What is done is done and there isn’t anything that can be done about it now, except save another $3 million for a better commercial next year.
Originally Published on: Feb 10, 2011 @ 17:32