Groupon Admits Mistake, Pulls Tibet Ad

It looks like the story of Groupon's offensive Super Bowl ad campaign has come to a close. Groupon is pulling the controversial ad, along with the other commercials from the campaign.

It looks like the story of Groupon’s offensive Super Bowl ad campaign has come to a close. Groupon is pulling the controversial ad, along with the other commercials from the campaign. Company CEO Andrew Mason said, “We thought we were poking fun at ourselves, but clearly the execution was off and the joke didn’t come through.”

Earlier this week on the Groupon blog the company said, “Since we grew out of a collective action and philanthropy site (ThePoint.com) and ended up selling coupons, we loved the idea of poking fun at ourselves by talking about discounts as a noble cause. So we bought the spots, hired mockumentary expert Christopher Guest to direct them, enlisted some celebrity faux-philanthropists, and plopped down three Groupon ads before, during, and after the biggest American football game in the world.”

The problem? Viewers just didn’t “get it”. If you want to poke fun at yourself then your viewers need to be in on the joke. But the truth of the matter is, a lot of Super Bowl viewers had never heard of Groupon and those who did had no way of knowing that they grew out of a philanthropy site and no way of knowing why the company thought the campaign would be funny.

Mason wrote today on the Groupon Blog that, “We hate that we offended people, and we’re very sorry that we did. We’ve listened to your feedback, and since we don’t see the point in continuing to anger people, we’re pulling the ads.” If you try to view the videos on YouTube now you get a message that says, “This video is private. Sorry about that.” And I guess we’ll never get to see the Sheryl Crow ad that was promised to come next in the series.

Mason added, “To the charities (for which we expect to net over $500,000) and others that have spoken out on our behalf we appreciate your support. To those who were offended, I feel terrible that we made you feel bad. While we’ve always been a little quirky, we certainly aren’t trying to be the kind of company that builds its brand on creating controversy – we think the quality of our product is a much stronger message.”

Do you think Groupon did the right thing in taking down their offensive campaign? What do you the Groupon’s Super Bowl snafu will mean for the future of the company?