So daily deals site Groupon has been forced to make a cut of its own, removing all the Super Bowl campaign adverts which featured celebrities talking about cultural issues whilst enjoying discounted Groupon offers.
What is a real shame is that these adverts were actually designed to raise awareness of these issues, and dollars at the same time, for associated charities via Savethemoney.org. But customers never made that crucial click, simply because the adverts never mentioned their core good intention. They simply offended, trivialising the issues - and plenty failed to see the funny side of such serious matters.
It’s a strange turn of events, given Groupon’s history. The deals site was born out of the whole ethos of a Cultural Movement. Its founding website, The Point, brings people together who share a passion with the aim of making a difference, just as Cultural Movements do for brands.
With this in mind, it was in hindsight a huge mistake for Groupon to even try to find humour in issues which people are extremely passionate about, whether its deforestation or Tibet. And trying to shoehorn a deal into the mix was even worse – many saw it as using world issues for their own gain. This is where Cultural Movements differ – the aim isn’t to sell more of this or that, in fact it’s never about the product the brand is selling.
Whilst Groupon still expects to raise thousands of dollars for the charities associated with each advert, the real test will be whether any customers were so offended that they now make the leap to competitors such as LivingSocial.
But really, when it comes down to it, are people willing to miss out on deals that save them their hard earned dollars, just so they can continue standing their moral ground? Or will the temptation of keeping just a few cents more in their wallets be enough for them to cast aside their feelings to remain loyal followers, especially after Groupon’s timely apology?