Ever since Burger King decided to dial down their advertising, it's been a while since local advertising hot house Crispin Porter + Bogusky has had an ad generate much controversy. But the firm, for better or worse, returned to eyebrow-raising form last night with ads for the deal website Groupon. The series of ads which poke fun at, of all things, the idea of charity seem to be the most hated ads aired during the Super Bowl.
Groupon rolled out a series of three commercials last night. Two aired during the game while a third aired during post-game coverage. The most controversial featured Academy Award winning actor Timothy Hutton espousing on the plight of the people of Tibet before hawking the idea of buying deals on dining out at Tibetan curry restaurants on Groupon. Similar ads with Cuba Gooding Jr. and Elizabeth Hurley poking fun at endangered whales and rain forest conservancy also aired.
The overall effect is "Yes, there's serious problems in the world, but who cares when yuppie Americans can save a few bucks on yuppie things? Yay buying things!"
Groupon offers daily deals in various cities across America on things like spa treatments and meals. Though the deals are only good if enough people buy it. The site already has a dedicated user base, but apparently was reaching for bigger exposure with a Super Bowl campaign. Crispin Porter + Bogusky delivered, but maybe not in the best way.
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According to Boston.com's Brand Bowl 2011 the Groupon ad was the third most tweeted about during the game, but by far got the most negative reaction of any ad broadcast.
The website set up for the "Save the Money" campaign features links to donate to charities affiliated with the various issues parodied, which means perhaps their intentions weren't so bad. Yet, the URL for that specific idea or the idea of donating to the actual charities weren't mentioned at all in the ads.
What do you think? For a company trying to make its first big foray into traditional advertising and mass awareness did CP+B totally screw up by associating the brand with unnecessary controversy, or is this an "all press is good press" situation that at least got people talking about a website they may not have even been aware of before?