Much like jokes, if you have to explain advertising to the audience then it's probably not that effective. After Groupon's Super Bowl ads sparked controversy and weathered widespread criticism the deal website's founder and CEO Andrew Mason released an official statement standing by the ads and the Miami-based advertising agency Crispin Porter + Bogusky that created it while completely missing the point of the criticism.
WritesMason on Groupon's official blog
When we think about commercials that offend us, we think of those that glorify antisocial behavior - like the scores of Super Bowl ads that are built around the crass objectification of women. Unlike those ads, no one walks away from our commercials taking the causes we highlighted less seriously. Not a single person watched our ad and concluded that it's cool to kill whales. In fact - and this is part of the reason we ran them - they have the opposite effect.
The firm that conceived the ad, Crispin Porter & Bogusky, strives to draw attention to the cultural tensions created by brands. When they created this Hulu ad, they highlighted the idea that TV rots your brain, making fun of Hulu. Our ads highlight the often trivial nature of stuff on Groupon when juxtaposed against bigger world issues, making fun of Groupon. Why make fun of ourselves? Because it's different - ads are traditionally about shameless self promotion, and we've always strived to have a more honest and respectful conversation with our customers. We would never have run these ads if we thought they trivialized the causes - even if we didn't take them as seriously as we do, what type of company would go out of their way to be so antagonistic?
Oh, silly us, we're just too stupid to understand CP+B's high minded advertising and the "cultural tensions created by brands" it highlights. Whoops! Oh, wait, actually, that's not the issue at all. Groupon could have made fun of themselves in any number of ways. The problem is that it the ads give the impression that they're actually making fun of charity while shameless self promoting the site's services.
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