There’s been a lot of discussion about Groupon’s Super Bowl ad from Crispin, Porter + Bogusky. The ads were deemed offensive.
I won’t get into a debate, here, about whether people just need to learn to laugh or if the ads were really offensive. Regardless of what I believe, enough people complained to make Groupon CEO, Andrew Mason, write:
Five days have passed since the Super Bowl, and one thing is clear – our ads offended a lot of people. Tuesday I posted an explanation, but as many of you have pointed out, if an ad requires an explanation, that means it didn’t work.
We hate that we offended people, and we’re very sorry that we did – it’s the last thing we wanted. We’ve listened to your feedback, and since we don’t see the point in continuing to anger people, we’re pulling the ads . . . .
Insensitivity aside, the real reason the Groupon ad missed the mark is because it had NO offer. Think about that. Groupon is a site that’s all about deals. It’s about giving you an amazing offer. The ad focused on telling that story through irony and humor…but without an offer. How do you take to the biggest stage in advertising and not hit the world over the head with what makes your company unique? Does this really surprise you though when you realize that Crispin is their agency? More mind boggling is this quote from Mason, defending CP+B:
The firm that conceived the ad, Crispin Porter & Bogusky, strives to draw attention to the cultural tensions created by brands. When they created this Hulu ad, they highlighted the idea that TV rots your brain, making fun of Hulu. Our ads highlight the often trivial nature of stuff on Groupon when juxtaposed against bigger world issues, making fun of Groupon. Why make fun of ourselves? Because it’s different – ads are traditionally about shameless self promotion, and we’ve always strived to have a more honest and respectful conversation with our customers. We would never have run these ads if we thought they trivialized the causes – even if we didn’t take them as seriously as we do, what type of company would go out of their way to be so antagonistic?
On one hand, I applaud Groupon for sticking by their agency. Many organizations would have thrown their agency under the bus. Well done Mr. Mason for realizing you hired them, you signed off on the strategy (if there was one) and you approved the creative. But, on the other hand, you support the work from CP+B, but basically saying, “well yeah, I mean that’s why we went to them, because they you know creative controversy.”
Well, while CP+B was busy helping you create controversy, it also helped you miss the right strategy and took you away from your brand’s DNA. You spent $3,000,000 to introduce your brand to 25 million people during the Super Bowl and you didn’t bring an offer to the table? Talk about a lack of call to action.