It was probably a great campaign if you understood it, but even then, Groupon's Super Bowl ad campaign was in pretty poor taste. On Thursday, the company announced it was pulling all of the ads, not just the particularly contentious "Tibet" ad starring Timothy Hutton.
In fact, the campaign was not just supposed to advertise Groupon, it as also to gather donations for a number of different causes (which indeed, were given a jab during the ads) on Groupon's SaveTheMoney site (now gone).
According to Groupon, that campaign will net about $500,000 for various charities, a good thing. Here's what Groupon CEO Andrew Mason said, in his last post on the spots.
Five days have passed since the Super Bowl, and one thing is clear – our ads offended a lot of people. Tuesday I posted an explanation, but as many of you have pointed out, if an ad requires an explanation, that means it didn’t work.
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 (a few may run again tomorrow – pulling ads immediately is sometimes impossible). We will run something less polarizing instead. We thought we were poking fun at ourselves, but clearly the execution was off and the joke didn’t come through. I personally take responsibility; although we worked with a professional ad agency, in the end, it was my decision to run the ads.
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.
Thanks for taking the time to read,
The ads are still on YouTube, but are marked private, so you can't see them if you don't know where to look. However, they are embedded below. And yes, we have to admit, as controversial as the ads are (and as un-PC as it might be to say), we still appreciate Elizabeth Hurley in a bathrobe.