[tweetmeme source=”equalman” only_single=false http://socialnomics.net%5D Groupon CEO Andrew Mason responded to the backlash on Twitter and Facebook about Groupon’s “Tibet” Super Bowl ad via the Groupon Blog:
We take the causes we highlighted extremely seriously – that’s why we created this campaign in partnership with many hallmark community organizations, for whom we’re raising money at SaveTheMoney.org.
Groupon’s roots are in social activism – we actually began as cause-based website called The Point, and we continue to use Groupon to support local causes with our G-Team initiative. In our two short years as a business, we’ve already raised millions of dollars for national charities like Donors Choose and Kiva.
As Mason points out, Groupon’s roots are cause-based, The Point, and is designed to help small and local businesses have a platform to compete against corporations.
Mason further goes on to state that the ads were designed to poke fun at Groupon, not make fun of the people of Tibet.
Christopher Guest was the director of this spot and he is best known for the spoofs “This is Spinal Tap,” “Best in Show,” and “Waiting for Guffman.”
The creators of the ads, Crispin Porter + Bogusk, are known for making waves. The Miami & Colorado based agency was also behind the Whopper Sacrifice campaign for Burger King that gave away, ironically enough, a coupon to people that would “defriend” ten people on Facebook. Facebook removed the campaign in 2009. The controversy surrounding this campaign resulted in 32 million free media impressions.
The question remains, is all PR good PR? Will the controversy around this Tibet ad actually drive Groupon’s stated desire: to raise awareness around these causes in the hopes of increasing donations to them?
Greenpeace supports Groupon:
The commercial was part of a Groupon campaign called “Save the Money.” Greenpeace is happily participating in the campaign. The truth is that the “Save the Money” campaign and the commercial are really helping us save the whales.
Here’s how it works: Groupon is collecting donations from individuals to help Greenpeace save the whales. People can purchase a $15 Groupon to save the whales and when they do, Groupon matches that by giving the person $15 in Groupon credit. It’s a great campaign and it’s really going to help us in our work.
This is in reference to another Groupon Ad with Cuba Gooding Jr. around saving the whales (below):
Groupon plans to edit the commercials to call-out ways in which people can donate money to SaveTheMoney.org.
Only time will tell if it appeases people like @rohitbhargaya who posted “Groupon seems to have achieved the unique feat of paying $3M to lose customers who previously loved them.”
A viewer named Vinod posted on the Groupon blog in response to Mason’s explaination:
I know what you were trying to convey, but you had 2 problems.
- The ad wasn’t very funny to being with. If it made people laugh you wouldn’t see all of the negative feedback. It simply lacked the humor necessary to trivialize a topic like Tibet.
- The ad didn’t explain your intentions enough.
Another reader named Mary posted: “I thought they were great.”
Mason’s quick response is a step in the right direction (something more companies should do) and if more money is raised as a result of this controversy than perhaps things will end positively for everyone.
By Erik Qualman