Groupon Enters the Sports Advertising Market

By Noah Davis Comment

If advertising during the world’s biggest sporting events means a company has gone legit, than welcome to the fray, Groupon.

The deal-selling service that recently spurned $6 billion from Google will advertise during the Super Bowl pregame show. The company wanted to snag a spot during the actual game, but inventory was already sold out. Regardless, the move signals a seismic shift for the Web company, which has pretty much ignored traditional advertising up to this point.

“The next level of extending the brand is traditional offline media and techniques to build the brand,” Rob Solomon, president and chief operating officer at Groupon, told Advertising Age. “If you look at the great iconic brands that have been built on the internet, they all go through that transition, and I think we’ll go through a similar progression.”

The choice to advertise around the Super Bowl was a simple one.“People know [the Groupon brand] but it doesn’t have a whole lot of credibility as a tier-one brand, so just the act of going on TV around the Super Bowl can add that credibility and boost top-of-mind recall,” William Baker, professor and chair of the marketing department at the University of Akron, said. “From standpoint, it seems like a good risk.”

But you have to wonder if it will work. Do the Super Bowl ads (or those during the pregame show) carry the same cache they once did? Probably not. Would Groupon be better off saving their money and spending it elsewhere, like the Internet? Perhaps. But they have money to throw around and may be the fastest-growing company ever. Taking a shot at brand extension isn’t the worst idea in the world.