Groupon Does the Right Thing

On Monday I blogged about the controversy over the Groupon.com ad that played during the Super Bowl, which made light of the plight of the people of Tibet. I suggested the ad was deeply disrespectful, and even played (perhaps unintentionally) on some unfortunate stereotypes. (See Groupon Super Bowl Ad: Unethical.)

Now it seems the company is taking the widespread criticism to heart, and pulling both the Tibet ad and the others in that series. Here’s the story, by Wailin Wong for the LA Times: Groupon pulls controversial ads

Groupon Inc. Chief Executive Andrew Mason said the Chicago-based daily deals provider is pulling all of the Super Bowl ads that had provoked a negative reaction online over the weekend.

“We hate that we offended people, and we’re very sorry that we did – it’s the last thing we wanted,” Mason wrote in a blog post on Thursday, adding: “We will run something less polarizing instead. 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….”

Now, Groupon (and in particular, CEO Mason) seem genuinely contrite; they appear not to have foreseen the public reaction to their ads. Some might speculate, cynically, that they were actually banking on the controversy and the free publicity it would bring, but I see no evidence of that. Well, better late than never I guess. But even better would be a corporate culture that empowered insiders to say, at some point during the planning & production process, “Hmm, is this really a good idea?”

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