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Groupon's Superbowl Ads
February 6, 2011 8:48 PM   Subscribe

Groupon's Superbowl Ads were controversial - The social networks were full of discussion on the ads. Groupon's blog entry about the ads. First takes by the Wall Street Journal, PaidContent, and CNN
posted by Argyle (180 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
Everything about this is dumb, dumb, dumb. Dumb.
posted by mr_roboto at 8:50 PM on February 6, 2011


Christopher Guest was involved? :( :( :(
posted by kmz at 8:52 PM on February 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Groupon, getting Cuban Godding Jr. does not convince me you are a worthy receptacle for my moneys.
posted by The Whelk at 8:52 PM on February 6, 2011


It appears someone was (or a group of someones were) attempting to be funny and just missing the mark by a whole universe. It's one thing to be irreverent, and I'm someone who thinks any subject is open for humor, but these are just tasteless and exploitative (especially the Tibet one, which is just vile in this aspect).
posted by cmgonzalez at 8:53 PM on February 6, 2011 [4 favorites]


The irony of this thread. It hurts.
posted by eyeballkid at 8:54 PM on February 6, 2011 [5 favorites]


Ok, I am convinced this is a second bubble.
posted by Ad hominem at 8:55 PM on February 6, 2011 [5 favorites]


8 Dot Coms That Spent Millions On Super Bowl Ads And No Longer Exist

Let's not make this tally 9, Groupon.
posted by rh at 8:56 PM on February 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm no market whiz, and if I were, I wouldn't be doing what I do for a living, but -- how do these guys make money? All I see is Groupon spending money on ads and clogging my gmail with the shit, but don't you have to get money in to actually worth something? However many billion dollars they turned down from Google?

Spend money to make money, sure, but how are these guys actually making money, given what they spend?

And yes, these ads are crass and insensitive. But it's the StuporBowl, so whatever.
posted by Capt. Renault at 8:56 PM on February 6, 2011


Also, I don't think there is a Tibetan restaurant in Chicago.
posted by kickingtheground at 8:58 PM on February 6, 2011


The product is not the coupons. The product is you.
posted by zinfandel at 8:58 PM on February 6, 2011 [20 favorites]


how are these guys actually making money, given what they spend?

Groupon gets a cut of every successful coupon sale.
posted by hippybear at 8:58 PM on February 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


They make money by keeping most of the $15 you pay to get $30 worth of offensive Tibetan Fish Curry.
posted by jacquilynne at 9:00 PM on February 6, 2011 [5 favorites]


Also, I don't think there is a Tibetan restaurant in Chicago.

Really? Boston has at least a couple kicking around, Chicago must have at least one.
posted by maryr at 9:02 PM on February 6, 2011


Well, not MOST of the $15... but about half.

And it isn't the Tibetan Fish Curry that's offensive. It's using the plight of the Tibetans and the possible extermination of their culture to leverage sales of online coupon deals that is offensive.
posted by hippybear at 9:03 PM on February 6, 2011 [5 favorites]


Yes, they get a cut. They are selling a new "business relationship" to the company, you. The company might be losing money on the deal, in the hopes that they gain a new repeat customer. There is still a lot of doubt whether is a smart deal for most businesses or if it is sustainable for groupon.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:03 PM on February 6, 2011


Apparently "Groupon" is some brand of douche? Or perhaps the aftermarket nozzle for such?
posted by milquetoast at 9:04 PM on February 6, 2011 [5 favorites]


Groupon: Extinction is hilarious.
posted by phaedon at 9:04 PM on February 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Groupon is very clever, they know there are organized groups of bargain hunters that will snap these deal up.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:05 PM on February 6, 2011


I can see this concept working. "Millions of Americans spend too much on . You can help by saving yourself money." But they lampooned a REAL cause by citing a REAL cause. And leaving them hanging.

"Tibet is fucking poor. Seriously. But they make great fish. So at least YOU CAN SAVE MONEY ON TIBETAN POOR FISH. Hot damn! Freedom! We gots it! For half off."

What dickbags.

(As it turns out, they're matching donations to the causes on their website, but the tone of the ad was so flippant and crass that I found myself hoping they'd do SOMETHING like that with their billions of dollars. They don't mention that fact at all in any of their ads, either, I don't think.)

And Groupon makes an ABSURD amount of money because, as jacquilynne says, they keep most of the amount you pay the vendor.

$15 for $30 of fish? Groupon keeps ALL of it. Seriously. If the amount you're spending is $25 or less, Groupon usually keeps 100% of the proceeds, and sends a horde of customers to the business's way to learn economics 101. They consider it a marketing budget/loss leader and hope that they can make a good impression, perhaps upsell the customers, and get people to hear of them. But it's a huge gamble, and it's resulted in serious losses for small businesses before.

Generally the rate is around 70% of WHAT YOU PAY. Which is already a discount of what you get of at least 50%.

It's absurd. And their "sense of humor" is a bit off-the-mark and exploitative, and I typically will make any sort of joke, no matter how offensive. This is just obnoxious.

posted by disillusioned at 9:07 PM on February 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


Bad taste or no, of all the superbowl ads this is the only one I have heard anyone talk about...
posted by PercussivePaul at 9:08 PM on February 6, 2011 [4 favorites]


I thought these were funny and well-executed, and had the right amount of tongue-in-cheek. Still not interested in Groupon.
posted by scrowdid at 9:08 PM on February 6, 2011


Also, Tibet is landlocked, and traditionally tibetans eat no fish. So even if Chicago did have a Tibetan restaurant, they wouldn't likely have a "fish curry" dish.
posted by kickingtheground at 9:09 PM on February 6, 2011 [19 favorites]


Groupon has found a way to make millions (maybe billions) of dollars on other companies' loss leaders. I suspect a lot of the retail entities who are relying on Groupon to get customers will be out of business in a year or two. Exactly the kind of business model Wall Street loves.
posted by oneswellfoop at 9:10 PM on February 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ok, I am convinced this is a second bubble.

Just last week a friend of mine (who is a well-regarded marketing person for a company you've probably heard of) and I were having drinks. He mentioned Groupon spurning Google's $6 billion bid and a few other odd market valuations of the last couple months and then said, "this is a second bubble, and it's about to pop." I scoffed. I reminded him of what things were like during the first bubble (we both worked for startups then) -- the ridiculous IPOs, the stock options handed out like candy, and the Super Bowl commercials. Surely, I said, things are different enough now that it can't be like that.

And then tonight, with the Groupon ad, I realized he was absolutely right. This was exactly the sort of tone-deaf insider-y sort of crap all those dotcoms ran during Super Bowl XXXIV. The circumstances may be different -- fewer IPOs, more private market trades, leaving not entering a recession, less money to create a startup -- but the outcome is going to be the same.

On the plus side, the only ones who will be hurt financially are Sequoia and other VC firms. On the minus side, I now work for a VC-funded startup that will probably get, to borrow from another crappy Super Bore commercial tonight, crammed in the boot when the squeeze comes, and I'll be one of the first to go.

Welcome to the second dotcom bubble. All the insanity, none of the swag.
posted by dw at 9:11 PM on February 6, 2011 [14 favorites]


AOL Buys HuffPo for $315M

Hooray Bubble!
posted by dw at 9:14 PM on February 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


Vaguely controversial ad: successful, or too successful?
posted by filthy light thief at 9:14 PM on February 6, 2011 [8 favorites]


The website Groupon links to in the commercials has a way for you to earn "Groupon credit" for contributing to the causes they belittle. THAT is a good (and Good) idea. Too bad they had to show off their assholery in front of America's biggest TV audience while doing it.
posted by oneswellfoop at 9:15 PM on February 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


This was exactly the sort of tone-deaf insider-y sort of crap all those dotcoms ran during Super Bowl XXXIV

I remember some sort of "cat herding" dotcom ad. Even technology people I knew didn't get it. It was like the company was just marketing to itself. In a way they were, nothing succeeds like success and nothing says success like a vanity superbowl ad.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:15 PM on February 6, 2011


Well I'll be damned, Cuban Godding Jr. is every bit as much of a shit head as I thought he was years ago. Him and Christopher Guest. Smug and dumb in one room.
posted by nola at 9:16 PM on February 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Vaguely controversial ad: successful, or too successful?

I'll be curious about this. Somehow, I suspect trolling doesn't translate well in the real world.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:16 PM on February 6, 2011


even if Chicago did have a Tibetan restaurant, they wouldn't likely have a "fish curry" dish.

There's fish on the menu here, in the greater Chicago area.
posted by Greg Nog at 9:17 PM on February 6, 2011


So even if Chicago did have a Tibetan restaurant, they wouldn't likely have a "fish curry" dish.

Perhaps this is the first step towards Americanized Tibetan food? Perhaps it just needs a side of spaghetti.
posted by rh at 9:21 PM on February 6, 2011


There's fish on the menu here, in the greater Chicago area.

Which is an Indian/Nepali restaurant.
posted by kmz at 9:21 PM on February 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'll add to why I like these: they manage to skewer self-absorbed people who are more interested in saving money than any worthy causes, they poke fun at the company itself for being completely self-absorbed in saving money, and they remind people who are so self-absorbed that all they care about is saving money that it's a dick thing to be that way.
posted by scrowdid at 9:22 PM on February 6, 2011 [10 favorites]


There are a couple places to get Tibetan (or "Himalayan") in Chicago, but there aren't any restaurants that I'm aware of devoted solely to that cuisine within city limits.
posted by me3dia at 9:22 PM on February 6, 2011


It's a great source of cowboy moustache porn: The Cat-Herding commercial.
posted by hippybear at 9:22 PM on February 6, 2011 [5 favorites]


So the one where the guy ripped the other guy's pants off and sniffed them is okay then? Just asking. I thought it was disgusting. Actually I thought most of the Doritos commercials were gross. Except for the one with the dog. That one was just stupid.
posted by Splunge at 9:23 PM on February 6, 2011


So the one where the guy ripped the other guy's pants off and sniffed them is okay then?

No. That was not okay.
posted by mr_roboto at 9:24 PM on February 6, 2011


Which is an Indian/Nepali restaurant.

Yeah, I dunno, it seems to be the most likely candidate for the restaurant mentioned in the ad; perhaps a bunch of Tibetans work there, preparing fish curries in the Indian/Nepalese style.
posted by Greg Nog at 9:24 PM on February 6, 2011


Yeah, I dunno, it seems to be the most likely candidate for the restaurant mentioned in the ad

I don't think the people who made the ad necessarily had an existing restaurant in mind. The commercial contained fictional elements.
posted by mr_roboto at 9:26 PM on February 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Besides Groupon, what are some other doomed neobubblers?
posted by Sys Rq at 9:26 PM on February 6, 2011


Those ads are disgusting. They promote personal selfishness and apathy about our global community. Totally distasteful.
posted by delicate_dahlias at 9:26 PM on February 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


So the one where the guy ripped the other guy's pants off and sniffed them is okay then?

Wait... I've actually done this in real life. That's not okay?

Oh wait. My actions were not connected with Doritos in any way. I'm in the clear.
posted by hippybear at 9:26 PM on February 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


Interesting... Regardless of Groupon itself, I saw this Ad quite differently... more as a poke at vacuous Americans who are more concerned with consumer products and bargains than real world issues. I'm obviously in the minority here tho!
posted by greenhornet at 9:30 PM on February 6, 2011 [13 favorites]


I don't understand where this bubble idea is coming from. In the dotcom era, you had companies that made zero money with no revenue stream and no business models.

Groupon is estimated to have between $800 million and $2 billion in annual revenue already. It takes 50% of every sale it makes (may have changed now that there are competitors). So when you pay $50 for $100 at some shop, it takes $25, just for running a website and a bunch of sales personnel who convince local businesses to pony up the actual goods and services.

This is not the second coming of www.blahblah.com. Groupon makes billions in its 3rd year of existence.

Also, I hosted a SB watching party tonight, about 20 people who were mostly young, liberal people who work for NGOs and the federal government. The Tibet ad was the one that got the most and loudest laughs, and we were giddily excited when the Elizabeth Hurley one turned out to be a Groupon ad as well.
posted by shen1138 at 9:33 PM on February 6, 2011 [6 favorites]


Folks the first twenty seconds of the Timothy Hutton bit are so over the top it's unbelievable. The girls playing in Tibet. The blank stare of the waiter, as the voiceover announces, "The people of Tibet are in trouble. Their culture is in trouble. But they still whip up a mean fish curry."

I'm a little pissed off they didn't show the Enola Gay flying over Tokyo and then cut to Timothy sinking his teeth in some mean sushi rolls.

Or how about Armenians, they would have had a fucking field day with this if they got picked on. That genocide didn't stop grandma from developing a mean recipe for sujuk! And now you can use Groupon and fuck her out of half the bill! Yay, capitalism!
posted by phaedon at 9:34 PM on February 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Guys. You're all completely getting trolled.

What, do you think they didn't exactly predict this reaction?

You think this isn't by design?

You think they're surprised?
posted by effugas at 9:35 PM on February 6, 2011 [24 favorites]


Hey, look at all the free advertising they're getting from all the people talking about their advertising.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:36 PM on February 6, 2011


*shrug* I unsubscribed. Will there be more people who subscribe because of the ads than unsubscribe? I suppose it's possible. But I wouldn't bet on it.
posted by kmz at 9:36 PM on February 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


Groupon just needs to change their slogan to "We turned down $6 billion, bitches."
posted by xmutex at 9:43 PM on February 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


I don't understand where this bubble idea is coming from.

Groupon may have as much as $2B in revenue, but they're not worth the $6B Google threw at their feet, not with the business model still not proven. LivingSocial is in a similar position, though there it's Amazon that's mostly backing them (so ultimately it could just be a big R&D piece for them).

There is a lot of venture capital coming off the sidelines right now, and it's coming out in a flood. It's inflating values of a lot of companies with half-baked or even unformed ideas just because the VC has to go somewhere. In this sense, it's similar to how capital is flooding the commodities market right now even though the demand doesn't match the prices.

It's not going to be the same thing as the 1997-2000 bubble. For the most part, there will be few, if any, IPOs. The good ideas will get swallowed up by the big players with cash to burn, like Google, Apple, Microsoft, and Amazon. The bad ideas will just burn through Sequoia Capital's money and create a new VC crunch. But right now there are a lot of companies like Groupon without long-term prospects yet. Groupon may gross $2B, but this does feel faddish.
posted by dw at 9:44 PM on February 6, 2011 [4 favorites]


Related: (a bit of an inside joke if you used groupon recently)
posted by cashman at 9:45 PM on February 6, 2011


Tone deaf.

Is that what they mean by post-modern? It's like a satire...but real! It's meta-satire. Oh god.

Also, Groupon is done is 4 years, max. They have very few repeat customers. Once they're done with willing businesses the stream will dry up.
posted by GilloD at 9:46 PM on February 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


Groupon. I'm dubious how good it is, and increasingly, so are many businesses. There was already a post about it here on the blue.

Interestingly, there's a link, good for another 24 hours, which is a $20 for $10 deal to Barnes & Noble. I cannot for the life of me, understand how this benefits an old, well-known business with few existing competitors. Interestingly, someone gave me a $50 B&N gift certificate around the holidays, I used it to buy some stuff online which "usually ships in 24 hours" but which has not shown up in the month since I ordered it. Five separate items, all "unexpectedly" delayed. So I probably won't order from B&N again. That said, thousands of people have bought dozens and dozens of these, using different credit cards, different Groupon locations and different e-mail addresses. I know a guy who's spent $700 getting $1400 worth of "credit." You're not supposed to, but it's apparently easy to avoid the rules. Other forums are discussing this; it doesn't seem like it's attracting "new" customers, just allowing old customers (or, more accurately, people who will never shop there again, but don't mind abusing the coupon while it lasts), so to me it seems like a giant, stupid move. That will cost Barnes & Noble a fortune for little gain.

When I got my first credit card and was able to navigate English and the internet well, there was some company that had a $4.95 sale on all CDs, designed to "buy" market share. I maxed out my credit card buying everything I could (mind you, I paid it off straightaway) and then never bought another CD from them, since their normal prices were higher than anyone else's. I think GilloD has it - once they steam through willing business, that'll be the end of that.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 9:48 PM on February 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


dw: AOL Buys HuffPo for $315M

Hooray Bubble!


AOL is expanding it's content sites, and looks like HuffPo is just the newest acquisition.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:48 PM on February 6, 2011


I agree with DW, I think groupon is a losing proposition for local businesses and eventually they will have fleeced all the suckers. I would point to some of the bigger ones like Zynga,Quora and face book killers du jour like path.com. There are photo sharing apps raising millions from VCs, just slap social on it.
posted by Ad hominem at 9:49 PM on February 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


No, Groupon has a great revenue model. It's called ripping off small businesses who use their services. Between the one-time customers who will never come back because the 'regular price' was and still is more than they're willing to pay and the regular customers who use the Groupon when they would've paid regular price anyway (many of whom may start questioning whether the 'regular price' is really worth it, thanks to Groupon), PLUS the extra cost of doing loss-leader offers through Groupon, most of the retailers doing business with them are never going to make back their losses. And as long as Groupon has a big-ass sales staff (and they're hiring all the time), a lot of small business owners will go under before Groupon's revenue growth begins to slow down.
posted by oneswellfoop at 9:54 PM on February 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


feelin good about not carin about groupon.
posted by boo_radley at 9:54 PM on February 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


Interestingly, there's a link, good for another 24 hours, which is a $20 for $10 deal to Barnes & Noble. I cannot for the life of me, understand how this benefits an old, well-known business with few existing competitors.

That's in response to the basically identical deal for Amazon gift certificates that LivingSocial offered recently. Amazon is an investor in LivingSocial, incidentally.
posted by me3dia at 9:55 PM on February 6, 2011


Interestingly, there's a link, good for another 24 hours, which is a $20 for $10 deal to Barnes & Noble. I cannot for the life of me, understand how this benefits an old, well-known business with few existing competitors.

But there are still competitors, such as Borders and Amazon. Huge companies spend billions on advertising themselves, even when everyone knows them (see Pepsi vs Coke). Anything to reinforce the brand.

And what me3dia said.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:56 PM on February 6, 2011


Can't believe anyone falls for Groupon. Groupon asks you to give away 2X worth of goods and services for 1X, then asks for a kicker. Meanwhile as a business owner you're basically guaranteeing a never ending stream of the cheapest, least loyal customers; most of whom try to scam you based on every word in the fine print. I understand that its about increasing "brand awareness" and foot traffic, but it feels more like inviting vampires into your home because you're throwing a house party.
posted by 2bucksplus at 10:07 PM on February 6, 2011 [6 favorites]


I know people who bought the B&N one that would normally never go into a B&N. So it works a little. And pretty much every coupon for a grocery item you don't usually buy depends on a stream of the cheapest, least loyal customers; most of whom try to scam you based on every word in the fine print. And coupons have been around a while.

And, once again, amazed at the little it takes to offend people. Head-shakingly amazed.
posted by umberto at 10:12 PM on February 6, 2011


I remember some sort of "cat herding" dotcom ad.

That wasn't a dotcom, it was EDS.
posted by aaronetc at 10:12 PM on February 6, 2011


I remember a commercial for one of those online brokers that was just monkeys clapping for 30 seconds, followed by "We just wasted $2 million. What are you doing with your money?" Which, first off, funny commercial. But secondly, I'm not giving my money to you.
posted by dirigibleman at 10:17 PM on February 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


I wasn't expecting the backlash on the Blue, I'm not going to lie.

How dare they make harsh statement on reality in front of one of the largest relevant audiences of the year. Let's just throw more thoughtless, viral failures in front of them.
posted by june made him a gemini at 10:19 PM on February 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


Poopon?
posted by phaedon at 10:23 PM on February 6, 2011


In mildly related Twitter news: "Millions are in uproar in #Cairo. Rumor is they heard our new spring collection is now available online... -Kenneth Cole"
posted by phaedon at 10:31 PM on February 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


How dare they make harsh statement on reality in front of one of the largest relevant audiences of the year.

...

Did you watch the whole ad?
posted by kmz at 10:35 PM on February 6, 2011


Don't feed the troll
posted by Long Way To Go at 10:36 PM on February 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


At least this tech bubble is self-aware.
posted by treepour at 10:39 PM on February 6, 2011


How soon before fuckedcompany.com comes back?
posted by dirigibleman at 10:48 PM on February 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Dear Groupon marketing department, can we get a Sierra Leone "blood diamond" themed commercial next? Kthxbye.
posted by phaedon at 10:53 PM on February 6, 2011


That wasn't a dotcom, it was EDS

Oh yeah, right you are. Just in case you happen to be in the market for business process outsourcing.
posted by Ad hominem at 11:09 PM on February 6, 2011


Ads were made by CP&B. Not much of a surprise there.
posted by Salmonberry at 11:13 PM on February 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


Deliberately offbeat, controversial Superbowl ad generates social media "buzz" including a Metafilter post. Thanks to this post, I now have a non-zero number of synapses dedicated to Groupon.com, which is not something I feel good about.

This Pepsi is so blue it's producing Cherenkov radiation.
posted by killdevil at 11:14 PM on February 6, 2011 [7 favorites]


But there are still competitors, such as Borders and Amazon.

Yes, of course, but Borders is fading fast - they've closed a lot of them, will be closing more and the stock seems depleted whenever I enter one. And as I hinted at in my post (though I didn't mention I've heard this from a lot of people) Barnes & Noble's online site is wonky at best. They list a lot of stuff as in-stock, when in fact little of it actually appears to be.

From my thinking, they can just wait out Borders, and they'll never compete with Amazon for online presence, so . . . what's the point? They just gave away tons of 'free' money for little gain. It's not like the Groupon coupons are going to cause a lot of people to check out this new thing called "books," is it? And people who do buy a lot of books and DVDs and music tend to be pretty savvy shoppers - they're unlikely to be swayed much by this offer, especially since B&N offers little of superior quality to their competitors.

About the only actual explanation for this is one of fear - Groupon worrying about LivingSocial, B&N worrying that the LivingSocial deal makes them look second-tier. Is it just jockeying to be the one company like this which will survive? If so, I find this all pretty funny since I think the entire premise to be unsustainable. Meanwhile, I profit - so I'm not complaining. But a second bubble does seem inevitable.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 11:37 PM on February 6, 2011


Borders is fading fast

Yes, yes they are fading fast.
posted by hippybear at 11:50 PM on February 6, 2011


No surprise here. Current and recent past generations are now showing up as less empathic than prior generations. Groupon is full of high-end decision makers who belong to this cohort.
posted by Vibrissae at 12:08 AM on February 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


I didn't watch the Superbowl, had better things to do, like laundry and skiing. That is not a judgment against those that did, I appreciate their passion, honestly.
Later in the evening out of curiosity I typed it into the Google.. and outside of the score, I had to scroll trough god awful amounts of news articles about the fucking ads.. or the friggen half-time show just to find a decent writeup about... the game. It really was somewhat challenging (in a internet way) to find anyone writing about the Superbow and not all the attendant pageantry stupidstuff.
posted by edgeways at 12:15 AM on February 7, 2011


That's insane. They expect Groupon farmers to know what Tibet is?
posted by Harry at 12:21 AM on February 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Did you watch the whole ad?
I watched all three on the website, yeah. And I commend them. If the commercials are offending you more than the inspiration, I don't know what to tell you.
posted by june made him a gemini at 12:22 AM on February 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


Groupon may have as much as $2B in revenue, but they're not worth the $6B Google threw at their feet, not with the business model still not proven. LivingSocial is in a similar position, though there it's Amazon that's mostly backing them (so ultimately it could just be a big R&D piece for them).

You don't think they are worth 3x last years revenues? That would basically he buying them out for nothing once you factor in depreciation and amortization you would be adding cash to your balance sheet almost instantly. The whole thing could be gone in 3 years and you'd still make out ok.
posted by humanfont at 12:23 AM on February 7, 2011


A joke on Reddit: "Tommorows groupon: 50% off Groupon shares!" Actually, Google apparently offered $6 billion for the company, and they have been planning a $15 billion dollar IPO.
Interesting... Regardless of Groupon itself, I saw this Ad quite differently... more as a poke at vacuous Americans who are more concerned with consumer products and bargains than real world issues. I'm obviously in the minority here tho!
But was it laughing at them or with them? It seemed more of an "with them" kind of joke to me, since they want their money.
Groupon just needs to change their slogan to "We turned down $6 billion, bitches."
Heh.
"$6 billion isn't cool, you know what's cool?"

"What?"

"Blowing up your brand at the superbowl, right after your sell half your shares on the private market pre-IPO"
posted by delmoi at 12:29 AM on February 7, 2011


MeFi is collectively offended, news at 11.
posted by lifeless at 12:47 AM on February 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm a fan of Groupon, and I've bought a few things from the site, but I can't believe how insulting those ads are.

Massive #fail. Was it really created by Crispin Porter + Bogusky?
posted by DanCall at 1:39 AM on February 7, 2011


at least this takes pressure off puppy bowl's own scandalous commentary: this little cutie can smell a quarterback sack from a mile away, which line i would like to appear in my obituary.
posted by fallacy of the beard at 1:43 AM on February 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm so happy nobody came in here saying "What's a superbowl? I don't do sports."
posted by hal_c_on at 1:47 AM on February 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


There was some sort of sporting event on, I take it?
posted by cmonkey at 1:51 AM on February 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Well I laughed at them. They were funny.

Those ads are disgusting. They promote personal selfishness and apathy about our global community. Totally distasteful.

Don't be ridiculous. They're lampooning the celebrity-supported earnestness of the infomerical, not the actual causes themselves. If using Groupon harmed the rainforests in some way you might have a point, otherwise no.

Honestly Metafilter, grow up.
posted by Summer at 2:06 AM on February 7, 2011 [12 favorites]


I thought they were humorous. I guess I'm going to hell.
posted by Allan Gordon at 2:08 AM on February 7, 2011


I'm a fan of Groupon, and I've bought a few things from the site, but I can't believe how insulting those ads are.

I thought they were especially stupid in that they were most likely to offend the people who are most likely to support Groupon - young, affluent, liberal urbanites. I get the joke, and Groupon's tried to cover itself by donating money to 'good' causes, but when you look at the amounts they're donating, it reads (at least to me) that they choose to donate the least they could without it seeming like just a token thing. In nearly every aspect, epic fail.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 3:00 AM on February 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


I just threw up in my mouth. A lot.
posted by TheCoug at 3:17 AM on February 7, 2011


Yeah, the ads cost $3 million to run, and they are matching up to $100k for each cause.

If it were an ad targeting conservative assholes, it might make sense. And maybe it is as small business owners (their pray) are actually much more likely to be conservative.
posted by delmoi at 3:25 AM on February 7, 2011


If it were an ad targeting conservative assholes, it might make sense.

Dude, it played during the freaking Superbowl. Who else is it aimed at?
posted by Sys Rq at 3:29 AM on February 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


If it were an ad targeting conservative assholes, it might make sense.

Dude, it played during the freaking Superbowl. Who else is it aimed at?


Hey man, what the hell? Are you really doing that "all sports fans have to be assholes in order to be sports fans" thing? Christ, that's beyond tedious. You reckon that the great time a lot of us had today watching the game makes us all conservative villains? That's a pretty broad brush you're using there, and messed up thing to say besides.
posted by EatTheWeak at 4:09 AM on February 7, 2011 [7 favorites]


This is the original claim: billions of dollars turned down from Google. Its implied message: "Google apparently offered $6 billion for the company." Suddenly, we have a focal point - more than enough for our investment needs.
posted by CountOfStGermain at 4:21 AM on February 7, 2011


"He mentioned Groupon spurning Google's $6 billion bid and a few other odd market valuations of the last couple months and then said, "this is a second bubble, and it's about to pop.""

That, and they apparently unaware that the startup costs for "another Groupon" are essentially zero and the branding isn't that important; I live in a city of 120,000ish (metro 300k) and we already have a "local Groupon clone" that cuts merchants a better deal than Groupon does. (Not that Groupon's penetrated our particular market, but people do do deals for the nearest large city or national deals.) And places like Facebook and Google are just going to replicate the model but with important brand names and millions of daily visits behind them.

I would have taken my six billion and retired to an island somewhere and watched the market for social coupons collapse, retrench under much less sexy terms, and become worth way less than six billion from the comfort of my hammock with my mojito.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 4:24 AM on February 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


That company's name just makes me think of this song by The Fugs (NSFW).
posted by scruss at 4:31 AM on February 7, 2011


You reckon that the great time a lot of us had today watching the game makes us all conservative villains?
posted by EatTheWeak at 4:09 AM on February 7 [+] [!]
Funny.
posted by eeeeeez at 4:34 AM on February 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


I spent a lot of my life hating sports and the very idea thereof, with varyingly debatable good reason.

Then I came to the realization that talking about football is a hell of a lot better way to bond with people than talking about how I don't like, understand, or appreciate it, or the people who do.

YMMV.
posted by 7segment at 4:42 AM on February 7, 2011 [6 favorites]


Hey man, what the hell? Are you really doing that "all sports fans have to be assholes in order to be sports fans" thing?

Something like a third of all Americans watch the Super Bowl, so there's plenty of room for all types of people in there. But still, if I wanted to reach a hefty proportion of conservative assholes, I'd advertise during the Super Bowl. Only about half the people I know - friends, co-workers, neighbours - watched the game. But *all* the conservative assholes I know did! You don't have to be an asshole to enjoy it; it just seems like lots of people are. That's anecdotal, of course. But plenty of studies have shown that sports fans 'skew' towards conservative attitudes, and there's a tribal element to sports fandom that, while less studied, probably skews towards asshole-like behaviour. Throw in the obvious connection between sports fandom and drinking and, voilรก!

Is it a gross generalisation? Absolutely. But it doesn't mean there's not some truth to it.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 4:50 AM on February 7, 2011 [6 favorites]


*adds advertising to things MetaFilter doesn't do well oh wait it's there already*

I love these ads because I scripted an advertisement for Coca-Cola last Monday that seems to follow the exact same line of thinking. Mine was using the Egypt protests and ended with the tagline "Give people what they want", but it was following the same idea, namely, "You would have to be UNCARING and SHALLOW to care about buying things considering how terrible the world is, but while you're here anyway want to buy some things?"

Look, Groupon's out to make money. They won't spend millions of dollars flat-out saying "donate money to Tibet". So they have two options. Either they make a commercial that completely ignores Tibet and doesn't offend anybody, or they mention Tibet and its plight, but then turn it into a joke to sell product. And they did โ€” in my mind โ€” the honorable thing by making Tibet into an outright joke, because if they hadn't then there'd be a fake sincerity there: "We are such good people we don't even try and sell you anything. So are you going to buy our thing?"

Crispin Porter Bogusky specializes in two things as an ad agency: They're talented at making people feel uncomfortable, and they're talented at changing the flow of conversation with a TV spot. Their "I'm A PC" ad for Microsoft absolutely changed the perception of Windows-vs-Mac for a lot of consumers, and it confused the hell out of a lot of advertising people. Same with their CGI Orville Redenbacher a few years back, or their "Safe Happens" ad with the car crash. If half of America doesn't hate one of their ads then they're not doing it right; a part of their strategy seems to involve making people argue with each other.

So they mention a genuine tragedy, and immediately double back and make it a grossly blatant spot for an essentially unrelated service. And... some of you think this WASN'T a conscious decision on their part? Like, some ad zombie out of Bill Hicks's nightmare just goes, "Hey, people are talking about Tibet. Maybe we could sell things!" Only, Tibet's not exactly a hot spot for conversation, is it? Or if it is I haven't noticed. So if anything, these commercials will make people talk more about Tibet. Possibly donate too. I suspect that Groupon will announce how successful their donations drive went and that will be a part of this advertising campaign too.

I'm bothered at the kneejerk "grar advertising" because advertising is evolving as a media form and doing some really interesting things on the edges. CP+B is one of the companies that's changed how advertising works in the last decade, and they're continuing to innovate. What's more, they have a heart. They don't use the advertising trope of "If you don't use our product it's because you suck", they don't make advertisements that stereotype or belittle their characters within (off the top of my head). There's a weird morality to their work. And now they're using their ad for a company to make a social statement that I approve of, even if it's couched in threadbare-transparent irony that apparently is too sheer for us to penetrate.
posted by Rory Marinich at 5:19 AM on February 7, 2011 [15 favorites]


I think we can all agree on the key thing from yesterday: Liverpool beat Chelsea using the same players they had available to them at the start of the season, minus Torres who switched teams last week. He came off from his Chelsea debut 64 minutes in having done little for his 50 million pound fee.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 5:26 AM on February 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


kickingtheground: Also, Tibet is landlocked, and traditionally tibetans eat no fish. So even if Chicago did have a Tibetan restaurant, they wouldn't likely have a "fish curry" dish.

It's worth pointing out that a great many Tibetans have lived in exile now since the Chinese military occupation of their country in the 1950s, so they've often adopted the cuisines of the countries that have taken them in -- notably India, where of course one does find fish curry.

Still, from my experience, the "traditional" cuisine of Tibetans I've met (that is, the food they serve at gatherings and fairs as examples of traditional culture) is a fairly narrow range of stuffed dumplings (mo-mos), simple stir-frys and soups, barley wheat and flatbreads, and of course the strong tea flavored with salty butter. As a matter of routine the Tibetans in my town seem to eat the same foods as their American neighbors (a Tibetan new year ceremony several years ago had many trays of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for snacking).

Regardless, Groupon's Tibetan restaurant commercial (I must have been in the next room during the others) was offensive in its glib flaunting of privilege at the expense of a famously oppressed population.

Rory M: Or if it is I haven't noticed.

Apparently, you haven't noticed.
posted by aught at 5:37 AM on February 7, 2011


Hey man, what the hell? Are you really doing that "all sports fans have to be assholes in order to be sports fans" thing? Christ, that's beyond tedious. You reckon that the great time a lot of us had today watching the game makes us all conservative villains? That's a pretty broad brush you're using there, and messed up thing to say besides.

First of all, it was a joke. Sorry if that wasn't readily apparent.

Second of all, it wasn't so far off the mark. The pregame show included a segment where Bill O'Reilly stuck it to Obama. What sort of audience do you suppose that was catering to?

(And seriously, if you're trying to defend football--not to mention football fandom--it's probably best not to raise the issue of tedium. I swear, sometimes it feels like a sixty-minute game can stretch on for four hours...)
posted by Sys Rq at 5:40 AM on February 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


(I just saw the Hurley one. Come ON. The musical cues in that ad are genius.)
posted by Rory Marinich at 5:45 AM on February 7, 2011


CP+B is one of the companies that's changed how advertising works in the last decade, and they're continuing to innovate. What's more, they have a heart. [...] There's a weird morality to their work. And now they're using their ad for a company to make a social statement that I approve of, even if it's couched in threadbare-transparent irony that apparently is too sheer for us to penetrate.

I agree there is a weird morality to their work. Perverse, even. I do not agree that they have a heart. If they do, it's an awfully cold one.

The social statement they're making with these ads is that giving a shit is for wankers, whereas being a callous consumerist dickbag on the cheap is just the greatest thing ever.
posted by Sys Rq at 5:51 AM on February 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


Just let me know when the GrouponWolves shirts go on sale.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 6:01 AM on February 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


I bought something from Groupon a few days ago. I needed to change the expiration date on my credit card but their website choked. I sent them an e-mail letting them know about the bug and this is what I got back:


Hi Ryan,
Thanks for writing and my sincere apologies for the inconvenience.
It seems that our site was having some temporary hiccups.There are three solutions for this problem:
1. Change your browser to something that doesn't suck.
2. Change your URL to my.groupon.com instead.
3. Check the "Keep me logged in on this computer" box.
Again I'm very sorry about that. Please let me know if you have any other questions or if I can be of further assistance.
Regards,


That's great support. "Change your browser to something that doesn't suck." Their site can't handle a simple function related to handling money and their response is to blame the user. Also the suggested solutions have nothing to do with the problem.

Based on this tiny sample I'm guessing Groupon is hiring too fast and isn't paying attention to execution. That does remind me of the dot com days.
posted by rdr at 6:01 AM on February 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


Wow rdr, that is petty lame. Looks like some IT temp monkey drank too much Thunder Muscle and tried to be cute.

Groupon doesn't have to have shitty ads for me to not like them. Their offerings alone pretty much sealed the deal for me. What the fuck am I suppose to do with a 30 pack of hot pretzels and a 20% off of a pedicure?
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 6:07 AM on February 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Rory Marinich: " Like, some ad zombie out of Bill Hicks's nightmare just goes, "Hey, people are talking about Tibet. Maybe we could sell things!""

Can some talented comic book artist make a thing called "Zombie Bill Hicks?" I will pay significant amounts of real money for it. Thank you.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 6:16 AM on February 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


I watched the game in a bar, so during the commercials we all were getting free food and stuff. The only ad that actually grabbed me was the kiddie Darth Vader which I have to admit was funny.

My point: there are people who still watch for The Game.
posted by jonmc at 6:19 AM on February 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


We mostly watched the Puppy Bowl, and flipped back only to check the score.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:21 AM on February 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


When I got my first credit card and was able to navigate English and the internet well, there was some company that had a $4.95 sale on all CDs, designed to "buy" market share.

Oh yeah, who was that? That was a hell of a deal. Everyone I knew loaded up.
posted by schoolgirl report at 6:21 AM on February 7, 2011


That, and they apparently unaware that the startup costs for "another Groupon" are essentially zero and the branding isn't that important; I live in a city of 120,000ish (metro 300k) and we already have a "local Groupon clone" that cuts merchants a better deal than Groupon does. (Not that Groupon's penetrated our particular market, but people do do deals for the nearest large city or national deals.) And places like Facebook and Google are just going to replicate the model but with important brand names and millions of daily visits behind them.

That's actually waaaaay off. The startup cost for a groupon clone may appear low, but that's totally missing the point. Groupon's actual value/success has everything to do with its human infrastructure.

It's not at all easy to scale sales and support the way Groupon has, and it is most certainly not cheap. The real reason Google wanted it so bad has less to do with the impressive revenue growth than it did with that human infrastructure.

Groupon is a service company, not a tech one. And looking at it in startup/tech terms is completely missing the point.

That being said, I still suspect that it's a bad investment for many/most businesses and there's a huge potential for a crash-and-burn.
posted by graphnerd at 6:24 AM on February 7, 2011


I have a degree in marketing. I do marketing. I understand the "edgy" concept. I believe that humor is one of the best ways to sell something; it's also one of the easiest techniques to blow up in your face if handled poorly.

The Tibet spot missed the mark by about a thousand fucking miles. I'd fire whoever did it and/or approved it.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 6:31 AM on February 7, 2011


I guess here's where it's up to subjective opinion. I thought that the switch from "legitimate tragedy" to "horrible shilling" was blatant enough that the resulting message was one of caring rather than one of humorous apathy. But of course I see how you could argue that the apathy WAS the message.
posted by Rory Marinich at 6:34 AM on February 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


The social statement they're making with these ads is that giving a shit is for wankers, whereas being a callous consumerist dickbag on the cheap is just the greatest thing ever.

No, I don't think so. I think they are trying to say, "Look, it's just coupons, we can save you some money, it's not world-changing. But, we're gonna use big pimpin' celebs, and to make that seem slightly hipper than the usual churn, we're going to try and be ironic."

Now, I'm not convinced they've succeeded (I did kind of say "Oh boy, this is gonna be good on Metafilter" however) but they certainly know what they are doing. Just take a look at their writer's guidelines.

And, on the purely anecdotal side, I use them frequently ($35 for a bikini wax and a pedicure in Manhattan?! Count me in.) pass them on, as do all my pals. So, we shall see.
posted by thinkpiece at 6:36 AM on February 7, 2011


Is it too late in the thread to tell everyone I don't have a tv?

I don't have a tv so I don't know what we're talking about.

Also I didn't read the links.

But, as I said before, No tv.

TLDR: I don't own a television.
posted by Lord_Pall at 6:38 AM on February 7, 2011 [8 favorites]


I am very upset that a thing happened of which I do not approve but doesn't make much of a difference anyway.

I demand satisfaction, America!
posted by grubi at 6:39 AM on February 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


($35 for a bikini wax and a pedicure in Manhattan?! Count me in.)

I can't help but wonder if maybe giving less money to the person in charge of ripping the hair out of one's genitals might not be such a great deal for either party.
posted by Sys Rq at 6:47 AM on February 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


TLDR: I don't own a television.

Use Groupon and you can get a 50" Plasma 3D TV for $1300!*

* Expires 10:32 AM February 7, 20011. Limit 1 per person, may buy 1 additional as a gift. No cash back. Tax not included. Not valid with other offers. See the rules that apply to all deals.
posted by mazola at 6:51 AM on February 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Just watched all 4 commercials.

I think they are poorly executed. The timing / phrasing is off and the writing is not very good.

It is sort of interesting to see the cliches of the do-good industry being lampooned. The ominous proclamations, the cloying music, etc. But again since the overall production values are not terrific, it kind of misses the point.
posted by eeeeeez at 6:55 AM on February 7, 2011


Also, I don't think there is a Tibetan restaurant in Chicago.

There at least used to be one. It was called Tibet Cafe and it was about 2 blocks from my place. I only went once, but it was pretty good food. I would have gone again if they hadn't closed. I think they probably had a hard time of it because people had no idea what "Tibetan cuisine" is like. (I had some tasty beef dumplings, basically like pot-stickers.)
posted by dnash at 7:04 AM on February 7, 2011


"The startup cost for a groupon clone may appear low, but that's totally missing the point. Groupon's actual value/success has everything to do with its human infrastructure. "

Six BILLION of human infrastructure? Because the local jobbie is running off like two dudes in their living room and turning a reasonable profit (they're like the PennySaver!), and has stuff I'm way more interested in than Groupon does. And THAT is going to be a lot of their competition.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:26 AM on February 7, 2011


Also, I don't think there is a Tibetan restaurant in Chicago.

A quick search shows the exact restaurant and dish mentioned in the ad, though it calls itself an "Indian and Nepali" restaurant, not Tibetan. So that's another poor aspect of the ad -- they needed to misrepresent the restaurant in order to do their mock-Tibet-charity opening.
posted by aught at 7:38 AM on February 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


6 billion isn't cool. 1 trillion is cool.
posted by Ad hominem at 7:39 AM on February 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Holy shit! $5 for $10 dollars worth of soup man soup! Groupon, you've done it again!
posted by Ad hominem at 7:51 AM on February 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


There's fish on the menu here, in the greater Chicago area.

Niles is not Chicago.
posted by adamdschneider at 7:58 AM on February 7, 2011


First of all, it was a joke. Sorry if that wasn't readily apparent.

It wasn't, but fair enough I guess. After a day of encountering the smug, "I didn't even watch the game. What game?" attitude all over various forms of social media, it's hard to tell the absurd blanket statements from the jokes.

Second of all, it wasn't so far off the mark. The pregame show included a segment where Bill O'Reilly stuck it to Obama. What sort of audience do you suppose that was catering to?

Yeah, that's messed up and yeah, reckon there were plenty of folks who dug that for all the wrong reasons. Kinda burns my ass getting lumped in with those folks though, I gotta say.

(And seriously, if you're trying to defend football--not to mention football fandom--it's probably best not to raise the issue of tedium. I swear, sometimes it feels like a sixty-minute game can stretch on for four hours...)

Sez you. This game came in close to three hours and to me it felt like it blasted by in one. Double-taked at my cell phone clock when I stepped out of the bar, even. I never know what to tell people who hate on football, you know? Aside from, "sorry you're missing out on something awesome." Commercials and stoopid pregame stunts have never been the point and I've always found it strange how much attention they're given. The important story from yesterday is that the Steelers lost in front of everyone BWAHAHAHAHA, not that some ads ran inbetween segments of the Steelers losing cuz the refs from 2006 weren't there this time MUAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

But whatevs.

These Groupon spots are utterly tone deaf and vile. And the figures thy're talking about donating to the various causes they mocked seem a pittance compared to the cost of producing and airing a Superbowl ad. Makes me glad the tavern chatter drowned out the commercials yesterday evening. I didn't even watch the commercials. What commercials? And now my smug is on the table too. Feels good.
posted by EatTheWeak at 8:01 AM on February 7, 2011


Really? There are people who are actually offended by an ironic save the rainforest ad?! Christ. I've seen edgier material on the back of cereal boxes.

I mean don't get me wrong. I know the Tibetan independence movement has received tireless public support from Paris Hilton and that There Is Nothing Even Conceivably Funny About That, and the almost supernatural barrier of hushed dignity that comes from having Linsay Lohan and Steven Seagal joining hands to promote your complex political cause. How anyone could find anything even remotely funny in that fills me with confusion and rage.
posted by dgaicun at 8:22 AM on February 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think these commercials make fun of the fact that most consumers will not pay attention to the plight of others unless they can get something out of it themselves.

If Groupon made a commercial about the tragedy in Tibet or anywhere else, no one would care. However, as soon as Groupon mentions that they, the customer can get a deal, all of a sudden, ears perk up, pupils dilate and the viewer pays attention.

It might be offensive, but you know, its reality for many - we won't shell out $5 to give to charity, instead, coming up with excuses like "Oh, the money gets wasted, so I'm not giving", "The money goes to buy weapons and luxury items for the corrupt leaders, why should I support that", but we will spend $100s for gadgets and movie tickets and shows and sports events and restaurants, even though the money can also be filling up the wrong pockets, and is not being used to pay employees fairly.

I'll pay $2 for a coffee, but won't give 2 cents to a homeless person.
I'll pay $150 a month on cable and internet and cell phone, but nothing on supporting a child in a developing country.

So yeah, these commercials were offensive, but they any more offensive than the Chrysler one that rambles on about supporting Detroit? Both companies are trying to sell their product and that's it.

but maybe the Groupon one will make a few of these people think, even just a little bit, about Tibet and the rainforest. And maybe get the conversation started.
posted by bitteroldman at 8:24 AM on February 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think these commercials make fun believe they can take advantage of the fact that most consumers will not pay attention to the plight of others unless they can get something out of it themselves.
posted by aught at 8:26 AM on February 7, 2011


The spots weren't done well, at least not well enough for me to care much. They were like a series of ideas you IM with a not too smart friend about, sort of half-ass LOLsy, and then boom someone grabbed those ideas and stuck some celebrities in and poof, there's your ad.

I'm not sure what the advertising was supposed to do for the brand, but it didn't leave me with a more positive impression of Groupon. Although I guess I did get "we've got $$$$ to burn!" - maybe that was the point, and if so I can applaud that.
posted by mrs. taters at 8:27 AM on February 7, 2011


I know the Tibetan independence movement has received tireless public support from Paris Hilton and that There Is Nothing Even Conceivably Funny About That,

Wow. I knew the general level of public cynicism about political causes was high, but this smug dismissal really amazes me.
posted by aught at 8:29 AM on February 7, 2011


The reason I didn't take this as anti-consumerist satire was because the comedy cues went completely against that. It's using the "bait-and-switch" comedy routine - you know, maybe you've seen it in a movie trailer for a comedy, or another commercial, where it starts off like some Oscar contender serious drama, a real weepy scene with strings in the score, or the dashing man leans in for a kiss, and then - reveal - he says something ridiculous, and then the music gets all upbeat and humorous and the audience goes, "Oh wow, I was tricked into caring! But this is just making fun of the seriousness and drama! Love it!"

I'm having trouble thinking of actual examples of this bait-and-switch thing. One of my favorites is the Spike Jonze Ikea lamp commercial. What made this work so well is that you're really tricked into caring about the little lamp, which you have to admit later is completely silly.

So this can be great and hilarious. But NOT when the "bait" is a real cause in which a goddamn genocide is involved. Then the message that comes through, to audiences conditioned on the bait-switch reflex, is "Oh WOW! They almost tricked me into caring about Tibet! Haha! Whatever happened to 'free Tibet' lol. Haha, the cause of hackeysack-playing hippies everywhere! Mmm fish curry."
posted by naju at 8:29 AM on February 7, 2011 [7 favorites]


naju: "One of my favorites is the Spike Jonze Ikea lamp commercial"

Damn it, I do care about the lamp. And the movie about the robots with the real emotions made me cry. And basically anything about loneliness or loss or love will fuck my emotional radar up for the rest of the day. Screw you, Hollywood.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 8:38 AM on February 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


adamdschneider: "Niles is not Chicago."

You want him to say "Himalayan Restaraunt in Niles, Illinois, where if you trip on Touhy Avenue you fall in Chicago, and whose residents tell non-Chicagoans that they come from Chicago?"
posted by Reverend John at 8:47 AM on February 7, 2011


I went SO LONG without knowing what the fuck a groupon was. All I knew was every time I saw an ad for one on a website it gave me this skeevy feeling because it sounds like some kind of weird new group sex movement. I was happier when that was all I knew about groupon, damn it.
posted by nanojath at 8:51 AM on February 7, 2011 [1 favorite]



It's a great source of cowboy moustache porn: The Cat-Herding commercial yt .


Oh my god... EDS? Those fucks are incompetent. They couldn't even figure out how to send me a CSV file.
posted by odinsdream at 8:58 AM on February 7, 2011


Awww hell. And this goes down the weekend before my shop's supposed to have a Groupon. DAMN IT.

(For the record, Groupon keeps half of the proceeds of what you pay, I don't know where disillusioned's getting this 70% number from -- and they seem to have been at least a little chastened by their last bad batch of PR, since they're now heavily encouraging shop owners to participate in one of their online seminars before their Groupons run, to make sure they completely understand the process. They do tack on another 2.5% to cover credit card charges, but that still doesn't bring it anywhere near 70%).
posted by bitter-girl.com at 9:12 AM on February 7, 2011


Can one really make money via trolling? Negative publicity is indeed publicity, but does it lead to people shaking their heads disapprovingly in public and signing on to Groupon in private? Well, this is certainly a mass social experiment. . .
posted by DrMew at 9:13 AM on February 7, 2011


You want him to say "Himalayan Restaraunt in Niles, Illinois, where if you trip on Touhy Avenue you fall in Chicago, and whose residents tell non-Chicagoans that they come from Chicago?"

Yes.
posted by adamdschneider at 9:39 AM on February 7, 2011 [6 favorites]


I think the people who question whether this is bad publicity are greatly over-estimating the number of people who will be offended by this. Most Americans really don't give a fuck about Tibet but they certainly know Groupon exists now. Also some of the people who could have been offended got a different message from the commercial. The commercials lampoon consumerism and fake celebrity concern.
posted by Procloeon at 9:52 AM on February 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yesterday seemed so calm and relaxing. I did laundry. I made a really nice and spicy batch of rice and lentils. I read a book and watched some videos about the Soviet space program. I ate spicy lentils. I took at least one nap. I ate some more lentils and some cookies. I went for a short bike ride and took another nap.

I think the most dramatic thing was the drunk guys shouting gibberish in the alley for some reason, but where I live that happens every weekend.

What the heck is all of this? What happened yesterday? Everyone's all pointy and grar like they were forced at gunpoint to watch a Black Eyed Peas show or something.
posted by loquacious at 9:53 AM on February 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Godaddy.com is some prostitution service or something and I was surprised to see them promoting their strippers during the Superbowl. There was also a few commercials with hilarious violence against women, so I guess people who respect women or other cultures aren't the target audience for products being sold during the Superbowl.
posted by fuq at 9:53 AM on February 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


I never know what to tell people who hate on football, you know? Aside from, "sorry you're missing out on something awesome." Commercials and stoopid pregame stunts have never been the point and I've always found it strange how much attention they're given. It's weird to me, too. People ask what I'm doing for the Superbowl and I shrug, "whatever I'd usually be doing on a Sunday night. Football's not my thing," and they're all like, "But the commericals! Won't you watch for the commercials?" As if I'm not surrounded by advertising all the time anyway. Commercials are what you put up with to watch something you're interested in. If any of them are particularly noteworthy, I'll find out about them on Monday and there will be links to the videos of them. Like this post!

(I have nothing against football. I do think it's kind of weird that people make out like the country has to come to a screeching halt for one sporting event, but, hey, I plan my yearly vacations around gaming conventions, and most of the folks going nuts over ther Superbowl would probably see that as pretty weird. So, you know, different people spend their mental energy of different stuff. Whatevs.)

I found Groupon's advertising annoying already (it hits near-spam levels), so they haven't really lost anything from me anyway.
posted by Karmakaze at 10:15 AM on February 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm offended by the ad as a human being, but I'm also offended by the ad as someone who appreciates well executed ironic satire. Purely in terms of humor, it's a shitty ad -- unoriginal concept, presented in a hamfisted, poorly timed and edited manner. There's very little wit here -- just tired trollery disguised as satirical commentary. The fact that they were directed by Christopher Guest just makes me lament how far the guy's fallen since Waiting for Guffman.
posted by Pants McCracky at 10:57 AM on February 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Only noticed the Tibet one during the broadcast. I didn't laugh, and it kind of made me raise an eyebrow, but you read the blog entry and it should be pretty evident that the Groupon folks aren't bastards. Their e-mails have a similar reaching-for-humor tone which doesn't click with me, but whatever; it's a great service. In any case, it's obvious that the only party that might look bad in this gamble is Groupon itself, not the causes.

My guess is that those who are prophesying ruin for either Groupon or the businesses that use their service haven't fully thought it through. Even if the standard markup (often higher than one might guess) doesn't cover the high expense of releasing a groupon, there are almost always additional services to sell and repeat customers. Local businesses, events, and restaurants especially stand to benefit from this model; basically, wherever the lack of customer awareness is a bigger risk than a one-time promotion which is almost a guarantee of exposure.
posted by millions at 11:03 AM on February 7, 2011


Can we instead talk about how great that Chrysler ad was?
posted by schmod at 11:09 AM on February 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Those ads are disgusting. They promote personal selfishness and apathy about our global community. Totally distasteful.

Well played.

The Groupon ad is certainly less offensive to me than the one with Eminem and Chrysler in Detroit.

we were giddily excited when the Elizabeth Hurley one turned out to be a Groupon ad as well.

/vomit

I swear, sometimes it feels like a sixty-minute game can stretch on for four hours...

Total action on the field is about 12 minutes. It's amazing how such speedy fellows can play a game with such a glacial pace.

Can we instead talk about how great that Chrysler ad was?

/vomit, part ii
posted by mrgrimm at 11:58 AM on February 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


A quick search shows the exact restaurant and dish mentioned in the ad, though it calls itself an "Indian and Nepali" restaurant, not Tibetan. So that's another poor aspect of the ad -- they needed to misrepresent the restaurant in order to do their mock-Tibet-charity opening.

I sent Groupon an e-mail last night, asking if the restaurant mentioned in the ad was real, and they just confirmed that they were indeed talking about Himalayan, the "Indian and Nepali" place.
posted by Greg Nog at 1:52 PM on February 7, 2011


mrgrimm: Why the hate for the Chrysler ad? Curious. Sounds kinda bizarre, to be honest.
posted by raysmj at 2:25 PM on February 7, 2011


I'm from Detroit. I'm would hope that any "renaissance" in the city doesn't involve non-sustainable automobiles and/or jackasses.

However, I see lots of comments today from Detroiters about how "proud" the commercial made them, so I'm obviously in the minority. That commercial certainly didn't make me proud to be from Detroit. It was embarrassing to me, like an old pop star clinging to a scene that only wants to dance and laugh at her horribly outdated hit.

"This is the Motor City, and this is what we do."

So, we make cars and abandon buildings?! The auto industry was dying back in the 1980s. Cars are not going to last forever. Think longer, Detroit!

(Mostly I don't like Eminem, cars, or advertising. All 3 combined are apparently enough to make me apoplectic.)
posted by mrgrimm at 2:52 PM on February 7, 2011 [2 favorites]



(And seriously, if you're trying to defend football--not to mention football fandom--it's probably best not to raise the issue of tedium. I swear, sometimes it feels like a sixty-minute game can stretch on for four hours...)


Not to mention the drooling cretin ex-jocks they employ to call the games. Christ! They sound like one-note Johnny's without a brain. Makes me long for Haywood Hale Broun and Howard Cosell. I used to be a football fanboy, but over the last dozen years I've completely lost interest. It's a boring game, broadcast by boring people. It's an oversold and over-hyped sport that's full of violence and stupidity. Most long-term players are permanently damaged. Sure, you can't argue with success, but "success" in this case is sad reflection of what we have become. Just look at the halftime joke that this year's game presented. Just. Plain. Stupid. How much in a drunken stupor would one have to be to have enjoyed that New Years Eve Time-Square clone.
posted by Vibrissae at 3:39 PM on February 7, 2011


Depends on the business's margins of course, but Groupon can actually be really freaking awesome for small business.

I'm not going to give too many details, but my partner ran one for the local business she manages and it came out as:

A local spa puts up a Spa Package that normally is 150 bucks for 75 bucks. Groupon takes 30%. They sold 550 of them. Groupon gets about 12 grand off of that, immediately.

After factoring in cost-of-goods sold including labor, the margin on that, even if every single person cashed in, was about $13,000.00. Yup. 13 grand. If any of the 550 don't cash in, that goes up. And many of those customers, if they receive good service, will come back.

I don't care about Groupon as a company personally, and there's a lot of caveats, but if your margins are big enough on what you sell, it can be great for small business.

For the business I manage, we make a good instead of sell a service, and we do it ethically with expensive fuckin ingredient, so our thinner margins combined with a limited production capacity don't make it work for us.
posted by lazaruslong at 4:06 PM on February 7, 2011


A local spa puts up a Spa Package that normally is 150 bucks for 75 bucks. Groupon takes 30%. They sold 550 of them. Groupon gets about 12 grand off of that, immediately.

After factoring in cost-of-goods sold including labor, the margin on that, even if every single person cashed in, was about $13,000.00. Yup. 13 grand.


Not to doubt you, but your numbers mean that the spa's cost for a package that they normally sell for $150 is under thirty bucks, meaning their usual gross profit margin is about 80%. That seems... unlikely.
posted by dersins at 4:23 PM on February 7, 2011


The Groupon ad is certainly less offensive to me than the one with Eminem and Chrysler in Detroit.

why? also it was funny to me when I added the italics tags to quote that comment. get it [em] [/em]
posted by sweetkid at 5:04 PM on February 7, 2011


why?

Can't speak for me, but I found that one offensive because it portrayed the downfall of the US auto industry (and consequently Detroit) as something akin to an unavoidable natural disaster that Chrysler (and consequently Detroit) are scrappily clawing their way back from, when in fact the US auto industry imploded itself with 30 years of designing and building terrible cars that nobody wanted to buy, consequently causing not only its own downfall, but that of much of the city of Detroit.

In other words, it's their fucking fault, but they spent over 10 million dollars (some of which were probably mine...) pretending it happened to them.
posted by dersins at 5:20 PM on February 7, 2011


the US auto industry imploded itself

There were a lot of people who were pretty proudly associated with the auto industry who were put out of work not due to their own failures but by something more overarching and systematic. I saw the commercial as a tribute to them.
posted by sweetkid at 5:24 PM on February 7, 2011


I saw the commercial as a tribute to them

Then their ad worked on you, since that's how they wanted you to see it. Doesn't make it any less distasteful to me, though.
posted by dersins at 5:29 PM on February 7, 2011


I'm so happy nobody came in here saying "What's a superbowl? I don't do sports."

Is that something only someone with a television would understand?
posted by monkeymadness at 7:05 PM on February 7, 2011


Gosh, it would really be nice if Groupon supported where I live.

But they don't.

So there.
posted by Samizdata at 7:18 PM on February 7, 2011


And I completely missed the entire superb owl show too.

Yes, I have a TV.
posted by Samizdata at 7:19 PM on February 7, 2011


And I would volunteer to wax Elizabeth Hurley for...

FREE!

HEAR THAT, MS. HURLEY?!?!?!?!

FREE!
posted by Samizdata at 7:25 PM on February 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


dersins: I hear you, but I wasn't making up the numbers.
posted by lazaruslong at 8:02 PM on February 7, 2011


For the business I manage, we make a good instead of sell a service, and we do it ethically with expensive fuckin ingredient, so our thinner margins combined with a limited production capacity don't make it work for us.

I whipped up this video and dedicate it to this thread.
posted by phaedon at 11:02 PM on February 7, 2011 [6 favorites]


This is rather late to the thread, but Shanghaiist has an interesting take on how the ad will affect Groupon's planned expansion into China here and here. Notwithstanding that there are already a ton of Groupon clones here, the premise of the article is that Groupon can essentially say goodbye to the China market. Tibet is not something that the Chinese government ever jokes about. Ever.

When Bjork shouted "Tibet, Tibet!" during her song "Declare Independence" at a concert in Shanghai a few years ago, the repercussions for that regarding high-profile foreign musicians coming to play resonated for quite a long time.
posted by so much modern time at 1:12 AM on February 8, 2011


I love these ads because I scripted an advertisement for Coca-Cola last Monday that seems to follow the exact same line of thinking. Mine was using the Egypt protests and ended with the tagline "Give people what they want", but it was following the same idea, namely, "You would have to be UNCARING and SHALLOW to care about buying things considering how terrible the world is, but while you're here anyway want to buy some things?"
Wow. Also, Everyone knows Arabs drink Pepsi.
* Expires 10:32 AM February 7, 20011. Limit 1 per person, may buy 1 additional as a gift. No cash back. Tax not included. Not valid with other offers. See the rules that apply to all deals.
The deal is good for 18,000 years? Wow.
A local spa puts up a Spa Package that normally is 150 bucks for 75 bucks. Groupon takes 30%. They sold 550 of them. Groupon gets about 12 grand off of that, immediately.

After factoring in cost-of-goods sold including labor, the margin on that, even if every single person cashed in, was about $13,000.00. Yup. 13 grand. If any of the 550 don't cash in, that goes up. And many of those customers, if they receive good service, will come back.
Yeah, but in what sense groupon do $12k worth of work here? They're ripping off business owners. It works well for services that would just have downtime if people weren't coming at lower cost (Market segmentation!) But for restaurants and other business with per-unit costs it's a bad deal.
Not to doubt you, but your numbers mean that the spa's cost for a package that they normally sell for $150 is under thirty bucks, meaning their usual gross profit margin is about 80%. That seems... unlikely.
Likely the had a lot of downtime, and the people who came in subsidized the empty timeslots. Selling more doesn't increase their fixed costs. OTOH if they were operating at capacity, there would be no reason to use groupon.
This is rather late to the thread, but Shanghaiist has an interesting take on how the ad will affect Groupon's planned expansion into China here and here.
Lol. That was the other thing that struck me as odd -- I remember thinking, "It's a good thing google didn't buy them, with all the trouble they're *already* having with China". I had no idea they were interested in that market.
posted by delmoi at 3:04 AM on February 8, 2011


Also, Everyone knows Arabs drink Pepsi.

Not true. Arabs do drink Pepsi, but not everyone knows that. A large number of Americans are convinced Coca-Cola is dominant throughout the world, like Budweiser. Their incorrectness is a testament to the marketing powers of Coca-Cola. Criticism of Pepsi.
posted by mrgrimm at 8:36 AM on February 8, 2011


Revenues are not profits.
posted by anigbrowl at 9:43 AM on February 8, 2011


This reminds me of the people who thought the Starship Troopers movie was pro-fascist. Yes, it is offensive: that's the fucking point.
posted by The Devil Tesla at 2:59 PM on February 8, 2011


Yeah, but in what sense groupon do $12k worth of work here? They're ripping off business owners.

They did work. They have the outreach all at once to make the sales happen, with minimal work on the part of the business. They write the copy and have the massive email list.

Now, whether or not that work is worth 12k is certainly a fair point. But I don't get how that is "ripping off business owners". They made 13k of sorely needed profit from a minimal cost investment (and by minimal I mean like, 30 bucks of labor) and Groupon's reach did the rest. So they walked away with 13k they didn't have before, affording them the opportunity to provide more employees with more hours and more income.

I guess what I'm saying is in certain business models its a win-win. You and others seem to be saying that Groupon's side of that win is out of proportion to the work they do. I happen to agree, and I think its a worth point, but that doesn't also translate the equation into Win-Lose and screwing small businesses.
posted by lazaruslong at 5:10 PM on February 8, 2011


Likely the had a lot of downtime, and the people who came in subsidized the empty timeslots. Selling more doesn't increase their fixed costs. OTOH if they were operating at capacity, there would be no reason to use groupon.

Its a reasonable guess, but nope. The upfront net profit (with the associated cost that gets cashed in slowly over time) allowed them to expand into another treatment room and hire the labor to staff it. A marketing investment that yields large returns can still be great for a business at operational capacity if they have the ability to expand as a result. And having a big ole chunk of profit capital to allocate a portion of certainly helps with that.
posted by lazaruslong at 5:12 PM on February 8, 2011


This reminds me of the people who thought the Starship Troopers movie was pro-fascist. Yes, it is offensive: that's the fucking point.

Right, but the thing is there's a fine line between laughing at fascism, and being laughably pro-fascist. Lots of conservatives think Steven Colbert is actually a conservative, and just saying what he really thinks. They're clearly wrong.

The groupon thing seems to be the reverse. The straightforward message is pretty terrible, so people automatically assume they're being sarcastic. But are they? It seem like they may be being sincerely offensive.
posted by delmoi at 7:30 PM on February 9, 2011


Ad hominem: "I remember some sort of "cat herding" dotcom ad. Even technology people I knew didn't get it."

EDS. I have the matching pen and coffee mug still.

When that commercial came out, a lot of the tech contracts at the GM Tech Center (a huge complex in Warren, MI) were held by EDS. They called an all-hands meeting to, among other things, show us the commercial.

2,000 geeks in a huge room, one upper level clueless management type (so clueless, he showed us a Dilbert cartoon to show us how hip he was) tried to get the video to run on his laptop. We just sat there and watched. Desktop monkeys, server people, network dweebs, all of us.

Finally, he looked up and asked for help. We continued to sit there, but about 10 managers jumped on to the stage.

It took about 13 minutes, but they finally managed to get the commercial to run, which rather amazed all of us.

I did like the commercial, though. Just not the company it was for.
posted by QIbHom at 5:13 AM on February 10, 2011


EDS?
posted by Sys Rq at 2:19 PM on February 10, 2011


But are they? It seems like they may be being sincerely offensive.

If it really is sincere they are huge fucking liers, as they that they wanted to bring attention to those causes while poking fun at themselves in the ads.
posted by The Devil Tesla at 7:11 PM on February 10, 2011


Groupon pulls the ads. And all is well in the shire.
posted by phaedon at 10:39 AM on February 11, 2011


When that commercial came out, a lot of the tech contracts at the GM Tech Center (a huge complex in Warren, MI) were held by EDS. They called an all-hands meeting to, among other things, show us the commercial.


There is no longer EDS. We were absorbed by Hewlett Packard.

And I think this is the rule for most service provider company - the employees actually performing the job generally know what their doing. The managers, sales staff and executives?

No. Clue.
posted by waxlight at 9:46 AM on February 13, 2011


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