The reaction to Groupon's Super Bowl ad with Timothy Hutton was as immediate as it was vitriolic. He's video of the commercial:
Tasteless? Yeah. Unnecessary? Absolutely. The worst thing ever? Actually...no.
If Twitter's instant reaction represents the American populous, then most Americans who saw the ad were angry, disgusted and shocked.
But they were also thinking about the current situation in Tibet. And that's something that I guarantee 99.9% of them weren't doing before. I'm going to go out on a limb and say neither were you.
Starting today, you're going to see a lot of discussion about the situation in Tibet where millions have been killed by occupying Chinese forces (learn more here) across every media source possible. A lot of people who didn't already know what was happening there will now know. A lot of folks who weren't doing something to help will now help. A lot of energy and time and money that was being wasted will now be directed towards helping a people in need. And Groupon is playing a role in that as well, asking folks to donate to each of the causes mentioned in their ads, including Tibet.
Now does this excuse Groupon from having fun with the Tibetan situation? Probably not. But then again, while Bud Light, Pepsi and countless other companies continued to churn out sexist and homophobic ads with no redeeming quality and leaving you with nothing to consider, something is going to come from Groupon's.
If you're thinking sexism and homophobia aren't on the same level as genocide, well, you're right. But if you're like me, you spent all night on Twitter watching people laugh hysterically at those base ads. Many of us have become so numb to vilification on such "local" levels that we need to beaten over the head with something like Groupon's ads in order to actually notice when a people are being persecuted.
Unlike Kenneth Cole's tweet, Groupon's ad campaign was thought-out and planned for. They surely knew they'd be facing an immediately-negative reaction. And yes, negative or positive a lot of folks are talking about Groupon right now which is essentially the point. At the end of the day, this is a commercial for a business that's No. 1 priority is making money. And the idea that Groupon will make money off of these ads isn't pleasant. I can't really defend that.
What I will say is that at least something comes from that ad other than just lazy, awful humor. I suppose they could have aimed low like Living Social, who "only" made fun of transvestites (isn't it funny in 2011 how he's a man who dresses up like a woman! LOL!). A lot of people are saying Living Social "won the battle" against their competitor. Yuck.
If that's winning, I'm pretty sure we all lost.
I'd rather say that nobody won. Except maybe the Tibetan people, who are receiving a helluva lot more interest from Americans today than they were yesterday.