Why Groupon still wins after Superbowl.

Every year companies spend millions of dollars for coveted air time during the Super Bowl, especially during the Super Bowl halftime where viewers worldwide stay tuned to catch all the commercials as if it were it’s own mini program.

With the largest of audiences in every demographic segment you can think of, advertisers have the chance to show off their brand, a new product, a cause or even bragging rights over competitors.  They plan months in advance with their agencies to produce :30-1:00 of gold in hopes of top-of-mind memorability and a growth in sales.

I can’t think of any other event that publicizes the list of advertisers during the event and has its own ranking of the ads the day after.  This year, if you missed any of the spots you can check them out here.

Groupon, a localized “deal-of-the-day” online vendor was one of those listed advertisers.  It was the first Superbowl for them and their first traditional broadmarket TV ad.  Check it out below:

The ad was conceived by world renowned ad agency all-star Crispin Porter & Bogusky and starred actor Timothy Hutton.  This combination on paper along with the established popularity of Groupon, seemed like an ad destined for greatness.

Yet once the ad aired, a slew of negative feedback filled the stream on Twitter, Facebook and other online blog sites.  How could Groupon do such a thing?  How could they take such a serious issue and attempt to humorize it as a heartless corporate giant with no compassion or remorse?


If anyone got pass the ad and actually went to the website that was advertised (http://savethemoney.groupon.com/) they would see that Groupon’s efforts were actually indeed noble.  They would match the donation to the listed causes, including to the people of Tibet.  However, this was a case where their message was misinterpreted and not aligned with their execution.  Groupon CEO Andrew Mason immediately issued a response to the negativity claiming that the controversy was unintentional and that the ads highlight the often trivial nature of stuff on Groupon when juxtaposed against bigger world issues…in turn making fun of themselves.

Despite how the ads were interpreted, you always hear the term bad publicity is good publicity…in this case, because of all the attention and buzz surrounding the Groupon ads, Groupon actually comes out on top.  Many consumers like myself intending to research more on the controversy will uncover the actual seriousness of their cause and let this slide.  My guess is after the ads ran, there was a spike in their online traffic as well as any organic searches on sites like Google or Bing.

More over, the majority of those who still feel slighted by their ads, will eventually come around to utilize Groupon’s services.  In the end, Groupon still strives to raise money for charities, saves consumers money and provides them with instant value.  How can you ignore that?  By nature, people tend to look the other way when you can save them some money legitimately and a blunder like this may get Groupon a slap on the wrist but it’s nothing they can’t overcome. It’s not like they were asking people to discriminate against Tibetans or go out and kill whales.  Moving forward they can learn from this experience, rethink their next advertising strategy and continue to provide value for consumers and social causes.  For all the attention they received, in the end Groupon wins out.

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5 responses to this post.

  1. You know, when you put it that way, it reminds me a lot of the Godaddy kerfuffle from a few years ago. The controversy was overblown, but it kept people talking about the ad and the company longer than it would otherwise.

    Reply

  2. Posted by nanigurl on February 10, 2011 at 12:26 am

    The more controversial, the more effective. I wouldn’t be surprised if Groupon planned out the whole thing that way(they intended for people to misinterpret the ad). In any event, Groupon (and the copycats) are definitely the hottest thing right now.

    Reply

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