Gil Asakawa's Nikkei View | Groupon CEO now blames ad agency for stupid Super Bowl ad campaign that blew up in his face
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Groupon CEO now blames ad agency for stupid Super Bowl ad campaign that blew up in his face

Who’s sorry now? Groupon CEO Andrew Mason, who gave a typical non-apology apology after a series of TV commercials aired during the Super Bowl set off a social media furor, especially over the one shown above which makes light of the plight of Tibetans, is changing his tune.

Now, in a Bloomberg Businessweek article that suggests that Groupon severed ties with the agency, Crispin, Porter + Bogusky over the campaign’s fallout, Mason admits that he trusted his ad agency too much “to be edgy, informative and entertaining, and we turned off the part of our brain where we should have made our own decisions. We learned that you can’t rely on anyone else to control and maintain your own brand.”

I thought the agency initially got off too easy from the mess they created.

CP+B is a giant organization with tons of talented smart people and world-class brands as clients, but maybe they seduced Mason into making a poor decision (or, maybe Mason is just deflecting now and covering his butt, using CP+B as a scapegoat). Ad Age covers Mason’s interview and his suggestion that the agency was fired (CP+B also lost one of its largest clients, Burger King, last week over declining sales revenues).

Ad Age notes that Mason defended CP+B in the days after the Super Bowl, writing on the Groupon copany blog, that the agency came up with the wacky Hulu ad campaign (and where’s Hulu today?): “The firm that conceived the ad, Crispin Porter & Bogusky, strives to draw attention to the cultural tensions created by brands,” he wrote. “When they created this Hulu ad, they highlighted the idea that TV rots your brain, making fun of Hulu. Our ads highlight the often trivial nature of stuff on Groupon when juxtaposed against bigger world issues, making fun of Groupon.”

The dozens of people who messaged me and the hundreds who lit up Twitter moments after the Tibet ad aired certainly didn’t get the message that it was making fun of Groupon.

I hope future potential clients will remember that CP+B came up with the idea. After all, just a week ago, one of CP+B’s social media gurus that I’ve met coyly suggested on a panel we were both on, that the flap over the ads was good for Groupon because of all the attention they got. Ugh. And he’s a person of color, and should know better….