Super Bowl XLV: What Groupon Was Thinking

Groupon Super Bowl XLV Ad: Tibet

Groupon is trying to placate Super Bowl watchers who were put off by its ads that seemingly mocked causes like human rights in Tibet and efforts to protect whales. In a blog post, CEO Andrew Mason says, “the last thing we wanted was to offend our customers – it’s bad business and it’s not where our hearts are.”

Mason isn’t apologetic though. Instead, he says the Super Bowl ads Groupon ran compare favorably to those that he says are “built around the crass objectification of women.” Mason writes: “Unlike those ads, no one walks away from our commercials taking the causes we highlighted less seriously. Not a single person watched our ad and concluded that it’s cool to kill whales. In fact – and this is part of the reason we ran them – they have the opposite effect.”

That doesn’t seem like much of a defense, i.e. “Hey, stop getting upset at us! Look at those other people that are doing bad stuff!” But Mason does point out that Groupon is raising money for the causes it was seemingly mocking. Groupon, however, didn’t make that fact evident in the ads themselves — an omission Mason doesn’t explain.

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