Here’s the thing. I get that people are feeling mislead, that their heartstrings are being tugged ever so gently by a message of social or environmental responsibility, only to be snapped back to the hard reality of consumerism, all in the space of 30 seconds. But what I don’t get is why anyone is shocked or outraged by this ad.
I mean, I know someone who is addicted to Groupon and Gilt Groupe and Daily Candy and the like, and to be honest, she is pretty much obsessed with shopping, deals, “hot items” and “hot spots”, and little else. Is it possible that Groupon just knows their audience really well? The kind of people who just want to buy stuff and will use any justification to do so?
And I realize that I’m drastically over-generalizing their audience based on one example (I’m sure there are lots of very nice people who use their service). But at its core it is, like any coupon or sales scheme, just designed to get people to jump at the prospect of saving a little money, ignore the fact that they’re actually just spending money that they may not have otherwise spent, and buy something that they probably don’t really need in the first place. I guess this has more to do with my personal philosophy on consumerism (perhaps more on that another time), but that’s just how I think about their company.
All of this is to say that I was in no way shocked or outraged by their Superbowl commercial. In fact, I may even go so far as to say that it was a total success. Shopaholism is a debilitating disease, people, and for whatever sick reason, it pays for some companies to present themselves as the cure. After watching this ad, sure, you may be offended – if you’re really a sensible person who honestly thinks that making a positive impact on the world is more important than stuff. But whether you’re that person or not (no judgement here), after watching this ad, you will remember two things: First, that Groupon is where you go to get deals, and second – on a more subconscious level – that nothing else matters.