Groupon is trying to close the book on a very interesting week if you are into reputation management.
- Groupon runs ads on Super Bowl that appear to make light of certain social causes
- There is a public “outcry” regarding the ads
- Battle lines are drawn but most people think the ads are a mistake at best and an incredibly stupid move at worst
- Groupon gets more free press than anyone if you don’t mind your brand being associated with the words insensitive, arrogant, pompous etc etc (along with an occasional ‘brilliant’ to be fair)
- Top ad agency Crispin Porter takes shots as well for creating the ads
- Groupon CEO Andrew Mason posts his view on the situation on the Groupon blog and gets more heat for the post’s attitude and lack of a real apology for the ads
- More free press from traditional media and bloggers that at least mention the Groupon brand. Once again it depends on what you read if the associated words describing the company are naughty or nice
- CEO Mason tries to put a final nail on the situation with a post that again falls short of an apology and has the air of “You people just don’t get it do you?” although a bit less so than the first post.
Here is what he said
ONE LAST POST ON THE SUPER BOWL
Five days have passed since the Super Bowl, and one thing is clear – our ads offended a lot of people. Tuesday I posted an explanation, but as many of you have pointed out, if an ad requires an explanation, that means it didn’t work.
We hate that we offended people, and we’re very sorry that we did – it’s the last thing we wanted. We’ve listened to your feedback, and since we don’t see the point in continuing to anger people, we’re pulling the ads (a few may run again tomorrow – pulling ads immediately is sometimes impossible). We will run something less polarizing instead. We thought we were poking fun at ourselves, but clearly the execution was off and the joke didn’t come through. I personally take responsibility; although we worked with a professional ad agency, in the end, it was my decision to run the ads.
To the charities (for which we expect to net over $500,000) and others that have spoken out on our behalf, we appreciate your support.
To those who were offended, I feel terrible that we made you feel bad. While we’ve always been a little quirky, we certainly aren’t trying to be the kind of company that builds its brand on creating controversy – we think the quality of our product is a much stronger message.
Thanks for taking the time to read,
So this draws to a close a memorable week for the high profile company, to say the least. Honestly, I don’t know what the end result was because I seriously doubt that many people cancelled the daily e-mail updates they receive from Groupon. People like to throw a fit but in this day and age no one needs to know whether you actually did anything about it.
Personally, I unsubscribed more because I was a bit creeped out by Joe Hall’s apparent ESP capabilities (Check out his post here at MP the day BEFORE the Super Bowl. Until then I never thought about what it would look like to unsubscribe from Groupon. Weird, Joe. Weird.).
Does this mean that I won’t go back? Not at all and I admit that. I have the same short memory that most have when it comes to stuff like this.
What will trail Groupon on this one is the rehashing of the event around next year’s Super Bowl. Now, Groupon may have lucked out on this one because the way it looks right now, even the big game’s fate is in jeopardy. Wouldn’t that just be Groupon’s luck to have this happen like that.
So Pilgrims, in the end what is your assessment of the ‘Groupongate’? Was this a major brand damaging event or was it much ado about nothing? Maybe it’s somewhere in between. I say that no one wants to be a reputation management case study for how not to do it. The bigger lesson may be that even in the online space the truth of “this too shall pass” is bigger than a blunder like this.