If you have been online today especially in the twitterverse you will have probably seen the backlash against Groupons superbowl ads. When I saw my twitter home feed filling with people who were unsubscribing from Groupon and expressing their disgust and disappointment in Groupon’s tasteless ads, I had to question if they could really be that bad.
Now if you had asked me what I thought about the ads when I first saw them, I would have told you that I would never ever use groupon. If you haven’t seen the ads yet there are a number of them and they start by talking about current issues in our world such as Tibet and deforestation and then turn it into a joke about how you can get a discount on purchasing something related to it. For example ‘Save the whales’ turns into ‘get a discount on whale watching’. I was really shocked they would use such sensitive issues and thought the ads really didn’t work AT ALL. They basically paid to lose a large proportion of their users. Here is the Tibet ad, which is the ad most people have seen and complained about:
I decided to visit their website to see if they had posted anything yet to defend their ads – instead I found this page: http://savethemoney.groupon.com/ . <You can watch the ads here too if you haven’t seen them. Suddenly the context of the ads started to make a little more sense – you can donate through their site to those causes related to the issues discussed in their ads and they will match your donation. Suddenly even though I still wouldn’t have ever gone with their idea the real issue was they forgot to tell the audience in their 30 second ads why they were bringing up these issues. It really just goes to show that even good intensions can be thwarted by an ad with a terrible execution that does nothing but create a rather large chip in your reputation.
My advice – try to see past the ads to the underlying intention of the ads which was to raise awareness and raise money for important causes. Even if it was so terribly executed that the ads are more likely to just see them lose users.
What are your thoughts?