I may still not know who played in the Super Bowl but you better believe that I know who advertised in the Super Bowl. My Sunday evening ritual of pretending to read books was interrupted by the controversy over Groupon’s ads. On Facebook, I saw friends unsubscribing Groupon, declaring their ads “tasteless!”.
Well, I rushed to savethemoney.org (Groupon’s ad repository) to watch these “tasteless” ads. And then I laughed. I laughed really hard because these ads are some of the most brilliant pieces of ironic self-deprecating advertising I’ve seen in a long time.
Isn’t it ironic?
Groupon took all the vapid, shallow consumerism in America and all of the trendy activism and then they rolled it up into a ball and threw it in America’s face. They did it with a wink and they did it to make fun of themselves.
What people don’t seem to get is that Groupon has philanthropic roots and that they actually want to help raise money for the very issues they bring up in their ads. They’re matching $100,000 in donations to the charities that deal with Tibet, Whales and the Rainforest. The truth is that American’s have short attention spans. Egypt is going through a revolution right now and it’s taken too long for the media to keep talking about it. Instead they’ve moved on to Charlie Sheen. These faux-philanthropists (or fauxlanthropists) in the Groupon commercials are only offensive in that they tell the truth about who we are as a society.
To get an idea of what I’m talking about go watch this wonderful satire by The Onion on this very topic.
Controversy isn’t so bad
Even though a lot of people didn’t get the ads, the controversy will probably play well for Groupon. Beyond getting a lot of people talking about Groupon, the controversy is bringing more attention to charities, as well. I haven’t thought about the rainforest, Tibet, or whales as much as I’ve thought of them in the last few days. In fact, maybe I’ll go make a donation on Groupon’s savethemoney page right now.