If you don't know already, the company that refused Google's (Nasdaq: GOOG) $5 billion take-over offer ran a series of three ads depicting global issues such as deforestation, Tibet, and the plight of the whales. These ads featured celebrity spokespeople using the global issues as lead-ins to Groupon's money saving coupons. Were these ads crass and over the top? Sure, but that was the idea, to get people talking and possibly go viral which they did.
The public, at least the vocal blogging community, is outraged at these ads, particularly the one featuring C Lister, Timothy Hutton on the plight of the Tibeten people. What the complainers are conveniently forgetting is now millions more people are aware of the dire situation in Tibet. Not to mention, that Groupon itself is a substantial donor to the cause. In fact, if you go onto their Web site http://savethemoney.groupon.com there are buttons where anyone can donate funds to the three causes parodied on the ads.
Groupon's CEO, Andrew Mason has even gone as far as to address the controversy in simple language on his blog, "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?"
However, the activists are refusing to listen to common sense and continue to trash the company. What they are not realizing is these actions are simply bringing more attention to the ads, having a reverse effect than the one intended. In addition, my bet would be that with the scores of new people aware of these causes, donations will be up across the board. How can these well intentioned folks be so unaware of real world cause and effect?
Marketing is marketing and controversy sells. Like it or not, this is a primary tenant of advertising. Come on everyone, just relax and remember the real result of these ads, not your perceived offense. I am on the side of common sense in this matter. Let's hope this side prevails!