February 12, 2011

"We thought we were poking fun at ourselves, but clearly the execution was off and the joke didn’t come through."

"I personally take responsibility; although we worked with a professional ad agency, in the end, it was my decision to run the ads."

Groupon founder Andrew Mason takes responsibility for America's lack of a sense of humor and Christopher Guest can go search for a better place to ply his comic genius.
The Chicago Tribune, Groupon's hometown paper, quoted a New Yorker who said he felt like he'd been "punched in the face" when he saw the Tibet ad.
Ah! The power of comedy! How horrible to actually feel punched by a punchline.

AND: Here's the Tibet ad. Watch it before it disappears:



AND: I know I'm being played. Mason's statement is a well-done strategy to make the video viral in a new way. Notice that he doesn't really apologize. There's a sop to the people who were offended, but a cue to people who want to think we have a sense of humor to give it a cult following. We're the special people who get it and who respect Christopher Guest and laugh at the oversensitive twits, etc. etc. I know!

ALSO: At the Althouse Super Bowl party, we got the joke in real time.

49 comments:

edutcher said...

Bet you could pretty much predict who was "offended" by looking at the party affiliation, voting choice in the last POTUS election, and how proud they were if their kid (no kids, we must save the Earth) came home singing a song whose refrain ended,

Mmmm, mmmm ,mmmm.

Meade said...

"...quoted a New Yorker who said he felt like he'd been"punched in the face"

Sixty Grit said...

That was a great ad. Fuck liberals and their huge ability to be "offended".

WV: micking - making fun of the Irish.

publishless said...

"And Groupon is staying true to its rep for going all out: It's not apologizing or backing down."

Actually, if you'd only waited about 2 more days....

NotYourTypicalNewYorker said...

Only because us New Yorkers are just soooo sensitive....and stoopit!

Jana said...

Aww, and what have all these delicate flowers who were offended done to help liberate Tibet lately? Have they even bothered to affix a bumper sticker to their car in support of the poor Tibetans?

Irene said...

On the other hand, Groupon's "not all deforestation is bad" ad seems to work.

A more razored execution with a joke that comes off more easily.

Fred4Pres said...

Link to the offensive ad! Link!

Chase said...

oh PLEASE!

Christians are subjected to almost daily offense in the media - how many movies depict the hypocrites in church vs. the amount made about the heroes who because of their faith pursue helping the impoverished or healing disease?

It's de rigueur to mock the causes and efforts of evangelical Christians on the Daily Show, Colbert, Bill Maher and a hundred other media outlets every single day, but DON"T YOU DARE OFFEND THE LIBERAL SENSIBILITIES ON THEIR PET CAUSES.

Give me a break. At least call it what it is - Liberal worship of their liberal idols.

PatHMV said...

Well, I'm pretty damn conservative, and MY first thought on seeing the ad that day was: WTF? I thought it was in poor taste, and wasn't very funny because of it. At first, I assumed it must be mocking something, somehow, and kept waiting for some punchline to fall or (as others have suggested) some "donate here" web address or a voice-over explaining why they weren't really making fun of caring about any of these things. But nothing. The joke could have been pulled off, I think, but they didn't, and it failed.

I don't understand why a bunch of knee-jerk commenters here are trying to turn this into some liberal-conservative partisan thing. There's nothing inconsistent with both finding celebrity obsession with causes ridiculous AND finding it distasteful to make light of the actual horrors of such things as the Chinese suppression of Tibet for the sole purpose of pushing some coupons.

Chase said...

Hey look - there's a new movie out called "Cedar Rapids".

It's about a "self-described Christian insurance convention is meant as a microcosm of religious and political hypocrisy".

Better get ready for the public pressure to make the producers of Cedar Rapids comment:

"We hate that we offended people, and we’re very sorry that we did."


Oh my mistake - that statement was made by the Board of Directors of Groupon about the Tibet ad.

madeleine said...

Really? I thought the Tibet ad was hilarious! My favorite bumper sticker is one that says "Free Tibet...with purchase of another Tibet of equal or lesser value." People need to lighten up.

Chase said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
somefeller said...

Bet you could pretty much predict who was "offended" by looking at the party affiliation, voting choice in the last POTUS election, and how proud they were if their kid (no kids, we must save the Earth) came home singing a song whose refrain ended, Mmmm, mmmm ,mmmm.

And how many kids do you have, edutcher? Or does that part of you not work either?

Chase said...

I don't understand why a bunch of knee-jerk commenters here are trying to turn this into some liberal-conservative partisan thing

It's not liberal - conservative for me.

It's the sacred level of "tolerance" whereby American's are daily told not to offend anyone except the group everyone knows is supposed to respond meekly - evangelical Christians.

Sheepman said...

Link to the offensive ad! Link!
They're all on Youtube. Just viewed them and they're not offensive. Though, it may be in Groupon's interest to have a controversy as that will generate a lot of free publicity.

somefeller said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
somefeller said...

Really? I thought the Tibet ad was hilarious! My favorite bumper sticker is one that says "Free Tibet...with purchase of another Tibet of equal or lesser value." People need to lighten up.

This. I liked the ad too. But that sort of TV ad is probably better to show to more of a targeted audience, like on Comedy Central or Spike TV.

Meade said...

Free Groupon

MadisonMan said...

I don't recall the Tibet Ad. I thought the Brazilian Rain Forest ad was off-the-wall, and amusing.

Paddy O said...

Well said, PatHMV. That's what I think too.

As far as the attempt at humor, I get what they were trying to do, but the problem is they assumed everyone knows enough about them to get the fact they were making fun of themselves.

No one really knows groupon, even if people are somewhat familiar with what they offer people certainly don't know their history.

And this was really the big stage for them to introduce themselves. So, they needed to set up who they are before we are in on the joke making fun of them.

ricpic said...

If anything the ad was mocking that oh so shallow American consumerism. You'd think libs would be cheering. I know Cookie was.

Indigo Red said...

What a great ad! Nearly a full week after it was aired and people are still talking about it, even the thousands who didn't watch the Super Bowl.

Because I did not see the ad (not a commercial conscious person,) I had to go find it. It's been pulled by nearly every website except Super Bowl Ads Fanhouse - http://superbowlads.fanhouse.com/2011/groupon-tibet/.

If it weren't for the ad and a need to see it just to comment here, I discovered a news story from Feb 10 reporting that China released Tibet's freedom singer. "Tashi Dhondup was released after more than a year in a laogai centre, a re-education through labour camp in Qinghai province. He receives a hero’s welcome at home for his songs that express the pain caused by the lack of freedom in Tibet." http://www.speroforum.com/a/48297/TIBET--CHINA---Tibets-freedom-singer-released-gets-heros-welcome?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+speroforum%2Fnroq+%28Spero+News%29

Thank you, Groupon. It freed a lot (ok, one) of people, but it seems the good they die young. I just looked around and it's gone.

edutcher said...

somefeller said...

Bet you could pretty much predict who was "offended" by looking at the party affiliation, voting choice in the last POTUS election, and how proud they were if their kid (no kids, we must save the Earth) came home singing a song whose refrain ended, Mmmm, mmmm ,mmmm.

And how many kids do you have, edutcher? Or does that part of you not work either?


Unlike some phony folksy, whose brain seems to be on the fritz, all my parts work.

PS The meaning, since he can't fathom it, was that Lefties usually strive for that 1 designer child, no more than 2 at the very most.

Sarcasm, beyond his reach.

Paddy O said...

For me, when I saw the Tibet ad first beginning, I thought someone had the balls to make an ad that would anger China. After seeing so many companies bowing down to Chinese controls, it was encouraging, and encouraging in a way that meant we were going to continue to be bold in proclaiming freedom for others.

So, I get the distaste over celebrity causes, but making fun of celebrities is so utterly common and unoriginal. Having at China on the biggest broadcast, not long after the Chinese visit and the associated flubs by our State department, was seeming to be a really encouraging move.

When it switched to become yet another expression of smug irony, I was disappointed.

prairie wind said...

Thanks, PatHMV, for putting into words what I was feeling. If the ad had felt more like fun at the expense of the celebrities and their beribboned causes, I would have liked it. Making fun of Tibet...not so much.

Maybe the deforestation ad works because it doesn't focus on any nation in particular.

PaulV said...

Execution is off!!!! Groupon does pardons just like Hillary's brother?
It gained attention for the abuse of Tibet by China. It was net positive.

WV putzb as opposed to just a putz

MayBee said...

I really did think the Tibet ad was in poor taste. Other people's misery as a punchline. Is that ok because Tibetans are too "other" for us?
It repulsed me. I'm so glad they pulled it.

somefeller said...

Edutcher, you're not that subtle, that interpretation was obvious from your initial comment. And I notice you didn't answer my first question. I guess we can assume that you are discussing parenting without any personal experience with the topic. No surprise.

And as a rule, in this day and age, having small families is a characteristic of affluent and educated families in general, with the notable exception of Mormons and a few other religious groups. Demographics 101. But then again, life among the affluent and educated of the present day is probably another thing you don't have much personal experience with.

>>>>

Free Tibet with your purchase of two appetizers!

Meade said...

Groupon founder Andrew Mason takes responsibility for America's lack of a sense of humor...

Hey, no sense of humor lacking in Althouse readers. Here's bwebster, Sixty Grit, and Rialby, keeping it real in realtime.

Swede said...

Flaming liberal baboon ass butt-hurt.

Melvin said...

I love Christopher Guest's stuff. This was funny. Really, very funny.

As to the "Cedar Falls" film, which I just saw a trailer for and an interview with the writer, I think I put this in the "American Beauty" category which is a catty, gay writer lashing out at the heterosexual world/suburbia/etc. The interview with the writer of "Cedar Falls" included his remarks that he "knew people from Wisconsin who never traveled out of the state", etc., etc.,etc. as emblems of a series of choices he wishes to ridicule. It's tiresome.

Christopher Guest's Waiting For Guffman/Best in Show/A Mighty Wind/For Your Consideration are just incredibly accurate satire. Very funny stuff. Can't wait for his next film, it's about the only place to see Fred Willard anymore.

Chip Ahoy said...

Yes, we got the joke in realtime here at Ahoyhouse too, but that didn't make the joke any more or less drôle or us any more hip. Actually I was more embarrassed by the Dalai Lama being escorted out the White House backdoor of past the garbage cans just in time for *click*, *viral photo* Wouldn't do to rattle our bankers.

tim maguire said...

I care about Tibet, but I still laughed out loud--something I rarely do, and almost never for a commercial.

edutcher said...

somefeller said...

Edutcher, you're not that subtle, that interpretation was obvious from your initial comment. And I notice you didn't answer my first question. I guess we can assume that you are discussing parenting without any personal experience with the topic. No surprise.

And as a rule, in this day and age, having small families is a characteristic of affluent and educated families in general, with the notable exception of Mormons and a few other religious groups. Demographics 101. But then again, life among the affluent and educated of the present day is probably another thing you don't have much personal experience with.


If he ever ventured outside Mom's basement, he might see a lot of affluent, educated families with 3, 4, or even 5 or more kids who aren't Mormon. It's what James Taranto calls the Roe Effect.

Sarah Palin, for example.

Did you wish her Happy Birthday yesterday?

bgates said...

Other people's misery as a punchline

Other people's misery was the setup. The punchline was that hip ethnic urban eateries are flourishing in this country because so many restaurants are founded by people fleeing the misery caused by the kind of governments that are enthusiastically supported by the clientele of hip ethnic urban eateries.

Free Tibet! Be more like China!

The Crack Emcee said...

Notice that he doesn't really apologize.

Awww, were the rubes offended? Did they believe the bullshit and get angry on it's behalf? And, now, an innocent man is expected to apologize - to keep their fantasy world alive?

Oh well, that's the way the search for truth goes, I guess.

somefeller said...

edutcher says: If he ever ventured outside Mom's basement, he might see a lot of affluent, educated families with 3, 4, or even 5 or more kids who aren't Mormon. It's what James Taranto calls the Roe Effect.
Sarah Palin, for example.


I guess my reference to "a few other religious groups" slipped right past you. There's no shortage of affluent, educated families with lots of kids, but the general rule is, more education and affluence yields smaller families. Again, Demographics 101. And while the Palin family is affluent, I wouldn't call them educated. (Are any of the college-age Palin kids in college or college-bound?) So their life experience isn't part of the sample.

Regarding your life experience - I see you still haven't said anything about having any kids. So you're just another childless person with comments on parenting. Most parents will tell you what those comments are worth.

And regarding your little cliche about mother's basements, my commentary is being typed in the spare bedroom in my house. Which is probably in a better neighborhood than the one you live in.

Synova said...

Okay... I watched it. I fail to understand the outrage.

billm99uk said...

Oh well. At least it didn't feature exploding school kids...

murgatroyd666 said...

I'd love to see a WalMart ad that starts off with the plight of Tibet and segues into ...

"But even though they raped that faraway country, we still do billions of dollars worth of business with the Chinese government to bring you lower prices, every day!"

Kev said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kev said...

(the other kev)

I'd love to see a Venn diagram showing the intersection of those who (a): were upset and offended by the Groupon ad, and (b): thought people were too sensitive in their reaction to the '10/10' ad.

peter hoh said...

I thought the ads were somewhat funny. That people found these ads offensive adds to the humor, however.

The ads skewer the inane notion that some actor, piously invoking some cause, actually matters. It doesn't. It never did. Get over it.

Obviously, some people find this upsetting.

drulvolt

rhhardin said...

It's not hard to see why professional offendees are offended.

The fun is partly in imagining it.

But mostly the ad plays the part of an audience that is not at all receptive to this or that sacred cause, which is not empowering to its devotees.

Some Tibetan music is very nice, like this showing the same building that's in the ad.

Some Tibetan music with Chinese subtitles here, with nice hip action in the Traditional dancers.

dogzilla said...

Color me humorless, but I'm with PatHMV on this. I am conservative and old enough to remember 1959. I find humor at the expense of a nation's oppression pretty tasteless. I would have been more impressed had the sponsor tried this with an Islamic nation...a lot of them are pretty oppressed, too, both by their governments and their religion.

I'm also aware that most liberals have no fucking clue who the Dalai Lama is or why he matters. I find making any religious leader a trendy accessory just tasteless.

So, I'm not one of the coolest readers of Althouse, I'm afraid.

DADvocate said...

I recognized the ad as an attempt at humor, but falling flat. I wondered how they got Hutton to do such a lame ad. (Money, of course.)

Plus, the ad told me too little about Groupon and what it does. Since they didn't use girls with large bouncing breasts, I logged on to GoDaddy.com instead. I loved their ad with Joan Rivers. LOL.

Paco Wové said...

The spouse and I watched it today – we both had the same reaction: meh. Not offensive or funny. My thoughts at the end of the spot: ...so, what is Groupon? Why should we care? Is this some in-joke we're not getting?

E.M. Davis said...

I wasn't personally offended, but I thought the spot didn't hit the mark. The whale one is clearly funnier because Cuba Gooding Jr's read is better. And whales aren't people, I suppose.