Deal-of-the-day website Groupon has pulled a controversial advertising campaign that debuted during Super Bowl XLV to wide public scrutiny.
The ads featured actors Elizabeth Hurley, Timothy Hutton and Cuba Gooding Jr., and attempted to act as a spoof of celebrity-endorsed social causes--only instead of saving the whales, or the rain forests or tibet, the theme was “Save the money.” All three ads--one prior to the game, one during, one after--featured the celebs discussing such causes before veering off topic and extolling the savings available on Groupon.com.
At best, the commercials were misguided and strange; at worst, they were offensive, which is why the company pulled the ads today.
“We hate that we offended people, and we’re very sorry that we did,” Andrew Mason, chief executive of Groupon wrote Thursday in the company’s corporate blog, per the New York Times. “It’s the last thing we wanted.”
The ads became a major talking point after the game, and even won a recurring role as subject matter for “Conan” on TBS. Despite the ads representing the first major, national campaign by the company, on Thursday, Groupon acquiesced to the public scrutiny and pulled the campaign completely.
“But as many of you pointed out,” Mason continued on the blog, “if an ad requires an explanation, that means it didn’t work.
“We thought we were poking fun at ourselves, but clearly the execution was off and the joke didn’t come through.”