Groupon Superbowl Ad: Controversial or clever?

Yesterday’s Superbowl viewers went to bed with a bitter taste in their mouths. Groupon launched a $2 million advertisement that caused worldwide political uproar.

The ad, starring Timothy Hutton, which was part of a charity campaign for different causes, was meant to help raise funds to aid Tibet’s struggling community. However, their take on humour was perceived by many as a mockery towards the country and the reaction received was that of an angry public, activists and furious internet users all over the world – unintended bad publicity…

But was it really unintentional?

The internet is being flooded at the moment with comments such as this being a poor sales pitch that “fell flat on its face”, “a huge mistake” on their behalf, or that Groupon is “doomed to failure”. Please note that I just said flooded – this is not an overstatement.

Just take a look at the amount of Tweeters, bloggers and all sorts of internet users spreading their harsh criticisms all over the web. Call it a failure or whatever you want but one thing’s certain: not that many people had ever heard about Groupon or what they offer before the Superbowl, had they? Although the words being said about them may be those of utter disgust, you can be sure that Groupon is now a household name in most parts of the world; they’ve got everyone and their grandma talking about them now.

Considering the amount of free media hype they’re achieving from these posts, comments, tweets, press, etc. and the amount of time the social repercussion will take to die down, should this really be considered a controversy, the worst attempt at marketing or a complete waste of millions of dollars? Or is this simply just one big clever publicity stunt?

As the famous quote goes, "any publicity is good publicity".


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