Super Bowl’s Lamest Commercial: Groupon, Tibet

It’s a matter of PR folks, and whatever you do to promote your brand on America’s most watched event, says a lot about who you are, your ethics, how  you do business and whether you should be trusted or not. Groupon, a company whose reputation is worldwide currency, just lost a few sympathy points, after airing a Super Bowl commercial denoting nothing but corporate greed, and lack of respect for the Tibetan nation. The ads has already been labeled by many viewers “the lamest and most tasteless commercial in the history of television.

The controversial Groupon Super Bowl 2011 ad is the “Tibet” spot, featuring Timothy Hutton, whose voice over breathtaking images leads the viewer into a the magical world of… coupon clipping.

Mountainous Tibet – one of the most beautiful places in the world. This is Timothy Hutton. The people of Tibet are in trouble, their very culture in jeopardy… But they still whip up an amazing fish curry. And since 200 of us bought on we’re getting $30 worth of Tibetan food for just $15 at Himalayan restaurant in Chicago.

The media reacted promptly, and so did the social media, where the vast majority fails to see the humor in the ad.

Dear @Groupon – over a million Tibetans have been killed during Chinese occupation. Your ad wasn’t funny. #SuperBowl – tweeted @devbost

Rohit Bhargava noted: Groupon seems to have achieved the unique feat of paying $3M to lose customers who previously loved them. #brandbowl

Well. Off to buy a new #Chrysler, drink a #Coke, switch to #Verizon, unsubscribe to #Groupon and fire #GoDaddy. Night #superbowl #brandbowl – tweeted @Reputationista and @paulboutin: Groupon’s logic error: Making dry fun of themselves in an ad aimed at people who’d never heard of them in the first place.

Last but not least, and probably the moral of the story, comes from @Catalysis_Comms: Culture in jeopardy? Who cares when you can still save 15 dollars on a curry? Bad judgement by #groupon for #superbowl

So without further ado, the conclusion is that the winner in the lamest Super Bowl Commercial 2011 category is Groupon. With or without the “award” the purpose of the ad is well served, bringing Groupon a number of headlines. And since bad publicity is sometimes better than no publicity and sometimes even stronger than good publicity, I guess Groupon doesn’t have too much to worry about. The consumers will soon forgive the incident, and continue using Groupon to “save the money.” The discourse rests.

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