Monday, February 7, 2011

The Genius of Groupon

While partaking in the tradition that solidifies my standing as a 'true' American, the liberal in me was committed to ignoring the hype surrounding the always painful "National Anthem" rendition, the eternally irritating half-time show, and the multi-million dollar war waged by gluttonous marketers.

I held my ground throughout. I refused to budge when Aguilera completely flubbed our patriotic tune, when Darth Vader discovered the dark side, when the BEP left my mouth agape with epic confusion, and even when the ever adorable Etrade baby was fitted for custom garb by Enzo the Tailor. Yes, despite my subconscious powers screaming for me to offer a comment, I held back. I held back until the proverbial straw broke this camel's back.

Groupon unleashed a commercial that had me so flustered and upset that I wanted to take to this forum immediately with the intent of forming some vast coalition (mainly my Facebook network, I guess) against the company that brings us discounted manicures, half-price restaurant bills, and ridiculously cheap Minnesota Opera tickets. Immediately, I was committed to retracting my email address from their database and shunning the man by paying full-price at each and every one of Groupon's advertising venues. That would teach 'em...

However, the new, rational Adam paused for a bit, slept on his surge of opinions and awoke with a new set of beliefs. Groupon and its marketers shouldn't be chastised, they should be congratulated.

Despite the turmoil surrounding many areas of our World's growth, from a completely pragmatic marketing point, Groupon played its cards perfectly.

The onset of the advertisement, featuring the Tibetan mountainside coupled with a slow pan towards the region's people offered an immediate break from the fast paced, flashy commercials to which we are accustomed. Timothy Hutton's voice-over placed us into a mode that is typically reserved for Sally Struthers' "Save the Children" and Sarah McLachlan's "Help the Animals" pleas. It drew us in, only to have our compassion shattered by a discounted meal in Chicago.

Today's Internet and radio backlash has remained massive. How could Groupon capitalize off the hardships of humans?! I still wrestle with this argument. Featuring a group of tormented people is a stretch, unlike the rain forest or whales, for instance. However, the fact that the discussion is soaring today bodes well for the cultural recognition of these political and moral problems.

Since the rumored take-over by Google, Groupon has become a massive force. Investors have made the company beyond economically stable and an onslaught of members have ensured stable marketing efforts for years to come. The company is a boon to small business and has the means to create change through contributions to the very efforts that it publicized (or exploited, depends on your stance).

The marketing campaign launched yesterday by Groupon may have caused a moral stir among viewers however, I can't remember the last time that I heard Tibet discussed in the mainstream. If the backlash towards the company becomes so severe that it threatens it's viability in the on-line marketplace, well it's nothing that an apology and donation can't fix- thus, keeping the business in our spotlight. Yet another reason why the commercial should be heralded as a success.

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