MBAs secretly don’t find Groupon Super Bowl ads offensive

Posted on February 7, 2011


There’s a lot of web chatter around the Superbowl ads this year – mostly that they were terrible & unmemorable, with a few exceptions – but none were more anticipated than the ads by the group buying website, Groupon. What do your TV commercials look like when you’re worth $6 billion to Google? Inquiring MBA minds wanted to know.

And then they came. First, the pre-game commercial featuring Cuba Gooding Jr. and whale-watching. Funny, we thought. Because whether we like to admit it or not, endangered blue whales are hard to get emotionally fired up about.

Then Timothy Hutton, and his Tibetan fish curry. More on this later.

And of course, Elizabeth Hurley, and “deforestation.” Actually, kind of amazing. In particular the sound effect in the background around second 00:15.

So, did MBAs the country ’round really find Groupon’s advertisements that offensive? We’re not so sure.

Yes, we do feel that Timothy Hutton might have been grinning a little too widely talking about Tibetans whipping up “an amazing fish curry,” after a somber note about their culture being “in jeopardy.” And yes, the Kellogg School of Management Super Bowl Ad Review – a panel talk we regret not attending while at Kellogg – reported that the panel thought the ads were, “offensive…and in poor taste.”

But most of the MBAs we talked to today admitted that these borderline spots were actually advertising genius. More tweets were tweeted about the Groupon ads than any other before, during, or after the Superbowl. And most business-minded colleagues of ours were in agreement about these points:

  • No publicity is bad publicity.
  • Controversy is the best marketing.
  • If everyone’s talking about it today, then you’ve succeeded in selling a groupon tomorrow.

If you want to talk bad publicity turned good, think back to only a few days ago, when a Kenneth Cole parody Twitter account started tweeting insanely offensive puns “on behalf” of the company’s bumbling founder.

All told, while we went to a school that emphasized marketing, and we know about ADPLAN (sorry Professors Rucker/Calkins) – we don’t think this set of advertisements and Groupon deserved the “C” grade that Kellogg gave them today.

What do you think?

Posted in: Technology