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In Super Bowl ad, Groupon declares it's saving your 'hood

Commentary: The once buzzy coupon company taps comedian Tiffany Haddish to help convince you it's looking out for your local mom-and-pop shop.

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Tiffany Haddish. Helping Groupon defend your neighborhood.

Ray Tamarra

Look around you.

Things aren't the same, are they?

The online world has changed the atmosphere in the neighborhood. People are ordering in. They're Netflixing. They're chilling. And they're unwilling to mix. They're even shopping at places that have no staff

In the hallowed days of yore, didn't they used to rush out to redeem their Groupons?

Indeed, does Groupon even still exist? Apparently, the deal-offering site does and it's decided to run an ad during the Super Bowl to assert it's saving your local businesses.

Featuring comedian and "Girls Trip" star Tiffany Haddish, the ad appeals to your frugality and your morality. 

"What kind of person wouldn't want to support their local business?" asks Haddish, with a certain menace.

The answer seems to be a rich, tasteless man who wants to shut down all mom-and-pop stores. 

Presumably so he can become even more rich and tasteless.

Groupon was once an addictively popular company. It enjoyed a CEO, Andrew Mason, who was known for his sense of humor and even released an album called "Hardly Workin'."

Then it went through consistently troubled times. 

There were layoffs in 2015 and again last year. Its strategy, though, revolved around targeting millennials.

Why has it suddenly decided to go for broke with this ad? 

"We've made incredible progress over the past few years on our mission to build the daily habit in local -- delivering an amazing customer experience and growing the size and scale of our massive mobile marketplace -- making now the right time for us to come back to television's biggest spectacle," John Wild, Groupon's head of marketing for North America, told me.

For some brands, Super Bowl ads serve to bolster their image and make them significant again. For others, the results can be muted.

This isn't Groupon's first effort for the NFL championship game. In 2011, it released an infamous ad featuring actor Timothy Hutton appearing to present a PSA for Tibet (video below). It took a twist and received so many expressions of distaste that it was removed.

I feel sure that this new amusing -- and far more emotionally savvy Hail Mary -- will be better received. 

Updated, 11.52 a.m PT: Adds comment from Groupon.

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