From the New York Times:
Groupon is ending a campaign that made its debut on Super Bowl Sunday, days after making changes in response to considerable criticism of the ads.
The decision is a major setback for Groupon, the purveyor of online discount coupons, because the campaign represented its first national mainstream advertising.
The withdrawal of a Super Bowl ad after the game in the face of complaints is not unprecedented. Mars stopped running a spot for Snickers after the game in 2007 because it was deemed homophobic.
The Groupon ad:
The Times, again:
Groupon ran one commercial during Super Bowl XLV on Fox, featuring the actor Timothy Hutton, as well as one spot before the game and one after; those featured Cuba Gooding Jr. and Elizabeth Hurley.
All three spots, which carried the theme “Save the money,” were intended to spoof celebrity do-gooders who support causes like saving whales or the rain forest or urge the public to care about Tibetan refugees.
The stars in each spot started talking about a cause, then veered off to describe how they were saving money by using Groupon’s discount coupons.
The twist was that the campaign was also intended to help those causes, with Groupon matching donations that consumers would make to organizations like Greenpeace. There were explanations about the philanthropic component on a special Web site, savethemoney.org, and on a section of the Groupon Web site, savethemoney.groupon.com.
But the charitable element was never mentioned in the commercials, which led many viewers to perceive the parodies as callous and insensitive, mocking the causes and those who care about them.
The spots were re-edited this week “to add language about how viewers could help the causes,” but it was a lost cause.
Your cautionary tale goes here.