Groupon cans its Super Bowl ads

After an outcry from some quarters, Groupon declares that it doesn't want to offend anyone (any more) and pulls the ads.

Even when the group in question is slightly whiny and humorless, if enough people band together, they can pull off a revolution.

In this case, I happen to be referring to critics of the Groupon Super Bowl ads. You know, the ones that looked like charity ads at first, but then turned out to be ads for charity at home.

After five days in which Groupon managed very successfully to drown out any public knowledge of something called LivingSocial, which also advertised during the Super Bowl, CEO Andrew Mason declared in a blog post today that the ads are being removed.

He added that the people who created them are being sent to work for Voluntary Service Overseas.

Actually, he didn't quite add the last part, but perhaps he should have. For, having Tuesday declared that Crispin, Porter, Bogusky, the agency in question, "strives to draw attention to the cultural tensions created by brands," today he merely referred to the company as "a professional ad agency."

Yes, not even "a professional ad agency that made those nice Lauren the Laptop Hunter ads for Microsoft."

Mason wrote in today's post: "We've listened to your feedback, and since we don't see the point in continuing to anger people, we're pulling the ads."

Those who found the ads to be distasteful might wonder why Mason felt there was a point in angering people in the first place.

It would not have been beyond deep deduction that some people wouldn't get the joke--even though, in my own view, it was one based on a profound truth: that Groupon is so powerful because Americans would rather get a half-price deal than contribute to worthy causes.

Those with broader minds and shoulders might offer that the most offensive part of the ads was that the mountain in the "Tibet" ad was actually in India.

However, Mason lifted his chin and bared his back for 40 lashes today, while explaining that the decision to run them was his own. He added that they had helped make $500,000 for the charities involved.

He concluded with: "To those who were offended, I feel terrible that we made you feel bad. While we've always been a little quirky, we certainly aren't trying to be the kind of company that builds its brand on creating controversy--we think the quality of our product is a much stronger message."

He promised that the next Groupon ads would be less "polarizing." So perhaps you, like me, look forward to a new campaign in which Mason, wearing sackcloth and ashes, visits remote parts of the world and offers free food, shelter and, to those indigenous tribes who like that kind of thing, pedicures.

 

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