Here’s what I look for in a great Superbowl — and last night’s delivered:
1. A game where the game is better than the commercials.
2. At least one great commercial.
3. At least one commercial that serves as a lesson to remind people that just because you can raise $1 billion from private investors and start a fast-growing profitable business, you can still be a complete idiot.
I’ll skip the first first one, although I’m sure there were lots of viewers who don’t watch much NFL football and don’t realize how the skills of a great quarterback can turn a seeming blow-out into a tight game. I’ll admit, I was for the Packers and I enjoyed the whole back-story narrative of the game (did I mention I don’t like the Steelers or their quarterback?). Bottom line, football wise: Turnovers kill you.
Second topic: Great commercial. I don’t know why advertisers are convinced that attempts at slap-stick comedy are the only way to go on a Superbowl commercial. Despite having a unique and universal demographic, the ads seem to limit their appeal to a traditional football audience: male, 18-34.
Humor is not the only key to a great commercial: emotion is. Some of the best copy-writing I’ve heard in many years serve as the foundation of the Chrysler “Imported from Detroit” commercial (embedded on the left, if you’re reading this on my blog). With the punchline delivered by Eminem, backed by a gospel choir, well, it’s about as powerful as a commercial can be — even if you’re a male, 18-34 (or, in my case, a bit older).
Topic three: Groupon. I’m sorry. Really, sorry. I love comedy and irony; satire and parody. I love irreverence and typically enjoy when savvy jabs are directed at political correctness.
But when wit is replaced with contrived controversy and a complete lack of any common sense or understanding of the context in which your attempted ham-fisted joke is lobbed, I’m sorry: You’re just stupid.
Groupon’s Tibet ad was perhaps the most expensive ad that will ever appear on the Superbowl. Why? Because it could bring into question the validity of a near-religious belief some have that Groupon is more than smoke and mirrors — that they have created some mythical “third-way” of small business marketing.
The company’s valuation is, in great degree, a figment of pre-IPO investor’s imaginations. But to continue its growth, the company depends on two audiences to succeed: 1. Small business advertisers; 2. Women who want good deals on day spas*. Mocking the struggle an oppressed people have endured for 60 years to sell discount vouchers doesn’t play well with either group.
And today, we’ll be bombarded with how Groupon was actually trying to raise the awareness of those causes it is mocking in its ads. So, they want to not only prove they have a lack of intelligence — they want to insult us more by suggesting we have so little intelligence as to believe they didn’t manufacture this entire controversy in order to practice the “GoDaddy” strategy of leveraging controversy into awareness.
I hope Groupon’s tactics, last night and today, are called out for what they are: crass and insulting and perhaps the worst abuse of investors money I’ve ever seen since, well, when did the last Pets.com ad run?
*Day spas represent the category of women’s health, fitness and beauty services that seem to be a mainstay of Groupon’s offers.
- Groupon, groupon, groupon (RexBlog.com)
- “Congratulations to Groupon president and COO, Rob Solomon, for packing the following four…” (rexhammock.com)
- “James Surowiecki on Groupon: “When we think about the Internet, we often think of businesses…” (rexhammock.com)
- Groupon spends big on Superbowl commercials, but ads anger many viewers (money.cnn.com)