May 8

5 Ways To Improve Groupon’s Super Bowl Ad

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So you’ve likely read all the banter yesterday about how Groupon was insensitive, moronic, or just plain stupid for running the ad above. Funny though, no one really said much about their second Super Bowl spot below….

I’m not going to get into all the political stuff or why there was almost universal and instant recoil to the spots when they ran. Personally, I think Liz Strauss nailed that in her Groupon: When Being Clever Offends post. You should read it and really focus on her point about clever being ok if we have an established relationship. Good stuff there.

Instead, what I’d like to chat about today is all the five things that Groupon did wrong from a communications and marketing perspective.

First, go back and watch those spots with the sound OFF. Not sure how your house was on Super Bowl Sunday (not to mention bars) but mine was loud. I mean especially during the commercials. Kids and adults yapping, folks calling out for beers, etc. It was often very hard to hear and because Groupon didn’t make use of title cards of any sort, you have to hear the audio to understand what Groupon is or how it works. For a spot that wasn’t really visually compelling, like the Chrysler spot for instance, seems like a big miss here — not considering the consumption context.

Second, they spent 15 seconds of a 30 second spot setting up the punch line. That’s about $1.5MM to tell a joke that fell flat. Sorry, but Groupon isn’t a brand. Ask folks that use it. They aren’t using it because they love the brand or what it stands for…they’re using it because it feeds them deals. Often times those deals are really good ones and they take advantage of them. But those same folks are cheating on Groupon with LivingSocial and lots of other deal of the day sites. So why anyone would spend 15 seconds setting up a joke versus just explaining to millions of folks why they should get up right now and register for is beyond me. Take a page out of Apple’s iPhone ads… if you’ve got a great product, just show it and get the creative out of the way.

Third, there is no call to action. Never in the entire spot does Groupon invite you to register at In fact, you never see the domain name and only get a title card with the Groupon logo for a mere 2 seconds at the very end. Add to this that you only see the “save 80%” for about 2 seconds and we get a grand total of 4 seconds of non-audio based sell message. If you have the sound on, you get another 4-6 seconds of Timothy Hutton telling you how he and 200 others got a deal… though if you listen to him, it kind of begs the question of “so I have to have 200 friends to get this?” Not exactly clear communication there. The only thing that comes close is a cut line on final title card that says “see it again at” so it’s like an ad for an ad. Fail.

Fourth, and maybe this was by design, but you also don’t see any reference to social media sites. No Facebook or Twitter icons to remind you to Follow/Like them on either of the social networks that have helped propel them to where they are today.

Fifth, they missed the mobile opp. There we all were, cellphones in pocket or more often in hand, texting, tweeting and Facebooking our commentary about the game and ads to others… and Groupon missed it. All they had to do was nail the “save money” angle with a strong call to action and a simple mobile friendly microsite or vanity text effort…anything to make sure that some portion of the hundreds of millions watching converted. And they blew it. Shame.

Yes it’s the Super Bowl and yes folks do actually tune in for the ads on this one special day and having grown up in the ad game, I get that it’s a bit about theater with Super Bowl ads. We all want to create the next 1984 spot. BUT, it’s still big money and big risk to ignore the basics of communications in favor of pretty ads. If you’re selling a deal… make damn sure the viewer feels like they gotta go out and register right now.

I think it would have been more effective to have schedule the worlds most awesome deal for Monday, February 7, 2011 and used the spot to tell folks they’ll miss it if they don’t go right now and register at

But hey, that’s me… what do you think?

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