Chicago – Responding to widespread criticism of his
company’s Tibet Super Bowl ad, Groupon CEO Andrew Mason defended the idea of
using humor to raise awareness of both the situation and the company.

"I’ve been spending the day listening to the negative feedback about our
Tibet Super Bowl commercial, and want to take a crack at explaining why we
created this campaign," wrote Mason in the company’s blog.

"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."

The ad in question began with actor Timothy Hutton
talking in a serious tone about the widespread troubles in Tibet, then switched
to a more light-hearted scene of Hutton raving about a deal for a Tibetan
restaurant in Chicago that he purchased on Groupon.

The ad — which cost a
reported $3 million to air — triggered a largely negative response across
social networks and message boards, particularly from activists who accused
Groupon of making light of a dire world situation in the name of boosting

Mason took exception to that.

"We would never have run these ads
if we thought they trivialized the causes," he wrote.

"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?"


Related Links:

(Groupon blog)


  1. As a Tibetan, I found Groupon’s Tibet ad during the Superbowl to be a bit insensitive & quite inaccurate considering there is no Tibetan dish called “fish curry.” But I was not offended. It did seem to offend the Chinese Govt b/c it suggests that Tibetan culture is endangered & anything that suggests there is a problem in Shangri-la of Tibet sends the Chinese running up the walls. Groupon may not be welcome in China after this ad. But Groupon is willing to donate matching funds to Tibet Fund which helps Tibetan refugees so they are doing some social good. And anything that upsets the Chinese Communist Party can’t be all that bad, can it?

  2. well then, is it ok if we make light of the situation just for fun?

    for what it’s worth, i haven’t heard any “outcry.” it’s almost like the whole thing was created in order to have something to write about. almost.