Groupon and Tibet: The least funny Super Bowl commercial

by doorhalfopen

A lot of people watch the Super Bowl. Clearly, all football fans keep this Sunday free every year. Even people who don’t care about football still tune in. The reason? Super Bowl commercials. This is the time of year where every company that wants a piece of America’s biggest sporting event to pour millions into a short commercial that will play just once in the four-hour span. These commercials have bigger budgets and sometimes very high-concept. Overall, these commercials are just more memorable than most that we see on American television. Most of them are funny. Rude, maybe, but by the end of each commercial we usually understand the point they were trying to get across.

Today I saw one commercial that had me confused the entire time, and not in a good way. It looked and sounded offensive. It felt completely insensitive. But this was just another funny Super Bowl commercial, right? Wrong. I haven’t seen such a distasteful advertisement on broadcasting in a long time. You can see for yourself below:

As you can see, the video starts like a rather serious video, almost documentary-like, about Tibet, its people, and its culture. At that point, the camera focuses on a man who talks about how delicious the curry is, and how YOU, privileged American, can enjoy discounts on food like this! At this point I was stunned and confused, partially because of how poorly executed the concept was, and partially because I thought that distastefulness in ads these days would be a little more subtle.

Apparently, Groupon has set up a website where you can donate to the causes that they mention in their ads, which you can view here. Considering that their marketing department just dismissed the cause in their ad as being trivial and less important than their daily deals, why would anyone bother going to the website? Bad, Groupon, bad!

Edit: It looks like Groupon meant well, but whoever made the commercial didn’t execute it very well. The concept was tongue-in-cheek and we were supposed to know that the speaker was insensitive and silly. They explain it at their blog, and noted that the company was born out of philanthropy, and that they wanted to create commercials that poked fun at themselves. Too bad there’s no way viewers can deduce all this from the commercial itself.

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