Groupon pulls Super Bowl ads
- February 11, 2011 3:02 PM |
- By Arts Online
Well, we won't be seeing Timothy Hutton extol the joys of discounted Tibetan food anymore.
Groupon is pulling its controversial series of Super Bowl ads, including the notorious Tibet spot, in which the Ordinary People star and Oscar-winner proclaims: "The people of Tibet are in trouble. Their very culture is in jeopardy. But they still whip up an amazing fish curry."
The commercials, directed by mockumentary master Christopher Guest (Best in Show, A Mighty Wind), were apparently intended as public service announcements in disguise. Groupon, the hugely popular online discount site, was trying to skewer the celebrity PSA format, while also raising money for groups like The Tibet Fund and Greenpeace.
Two other ads in the cheeky series didn't quite touch a nerve the way the Tibet spot did. One has Liz Hurley comparing bikini waxes to clear-cutting rainforests and the other features Cuba Gooding Jr. (another Oscar-winner) quipping that it's more fun to go whale-watching than to try to save them.
Still, the Hutton-Tibet spot sparked enough widespread condemnation for the whole series. The Wall Street Journal even went so far as to suggest the ad would hurt Groupon's purported plans to expand into China.
"If an ad requires an explanation, that means it didn't work," Groupon founder Andrew Mason posted on the site's blog. He continued:
"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."
Earlier this week, Mason had tried to defend the series and offer an explanation. He pointed out that plenty of other Super Bowl ads don't paint such a great a picture either.
"When we think about commercials that offend us, we think of those that glorify antisocial behaviour -- like the scores of Super Bowl ads that are built around the crass objectification of women," he said.
"Unlike those ads, no one walks away from our commercials taking the causes we highlighted less seriously."
Unfortunately, the company realized too late that for many viewers, the ads themselves could be perceived as Groupon itself not taking worthy causes seriously.
What do you think? Did you find the ads offensive?
-- Andrea Bellemare
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