Blog Post

Super Bowl XLV: What Groupon Was Thinking

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.

2 Responses to “Super Bowl XLV: What Groupon Was Thinking”

  1. Mike Altschul

    Dear Andrew Mason, learn to apologize.

    First, fire your PR agency for not telling you how to respond to public reaction to this. Next, read this: Lastly, follow the steps and issue an apology that takes responsibility, doesn’t shift blame, and doesn’t come across as an excuse. You offended and upset many people. Understand why, accept it, acknowledge it, apologize, make billions.

    Otherwise, you come across like a spoiled startup brat and customers will shift their business to one of the many other options, which will leave you scratching your head as to why you turned down a $6B Google offer a couple months ago.

  2. What Groupon should have done is used promo codes and donated $1 to the causes for each new user who signed up. Then they should have donated another $1 when that new user made their first purchase. People who are already Groupon customers could have logged on, entered the promo code and Groupon could have given another $1 donation. Good marketing and feel good for all without the negative press.