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February 8, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

Advertising execs generally agreed that the Super Bowl ad for Groupon, which cost it $3 million, did the company more harm than good. It featured Timothy Hutton discussing the plight of Tibetans, then shifting to a Tibetan restaurant in Chicago where Groupon users can dine at half price. Northwestern marketing professor Tim Calkins told the New York Times that a panel of his students who viewed the Super Bowl spots found the Groupon ad “fairly offensive” and concluded that it “might have done quite a bit of damage” to the company’s image. In a statement today (Tuesday) Groupon founder and CEO Andrew Mason stopped short of issuing an apology, saying, “We took this approach knowing that if anything, they would bring more funding and support to the highlighted causes. … The last thing we wanted was to offend our customers — it’s bad business and it’s not where our hearts are.” But while Groupon may now be insisting on its website that it is supporting causes aiding Tibetans, it’s likely that the Chinese government may not be sympathetic to such causes. China has taken the position that it has been swiftly raising the standard of living of Tibetans and bringing them into the 21st century after their impoverished existence under the influence of the now-exiled Dalai Lama.