8 things to know about Groupon’s ‘Tibet’ ad

Headshot of David Griner

Three days after the Super Bowl, Groupon’s tone-deaf “Tibet” ad with Timothy Hutton continues to prove less palatable than salted Himalayan yak-butter tea. Our YouTube analysis found it to be the least-liked ad of the game. But that doesn’t mean we can’t find a few silver linings. Below are eight tidbits of trivia to mull over, which may, or may not, change your opinion of the ad.

  1. The spot (one of four in the larger campaign), created by Crispin Porter + Bogusky, was directed by mockumentary icon Christopher Guest, whose track record with big-league ads is not so hot.
  2. Groupon CEO Andrew Mason says the ads are not meant to trivialize global activism but to “highlight the often trivial nature of stuff on Groupon when juxtaposed against bigger world issues, making fun of Groupon. Why make fun of ourselves? Because it’s different—ads are traditionally about shameless self promotion, and we’ve always strived to have a more honest and respectful conversation with our customers.”
  3. One of the other ads in the series, “Whales,” with Cuba Gooding Jr., is actually quite funny.
  4. The third ad in the series, “Rainforest,” isn’t funny, but does feature Elizabeth Hurley’s vagina as a punch line.
  5. There’s a fourth spot on the way starring Sheryl Crow. And hopefully not her vagina.
  6. The ads have the support of related nonprofits like Greenpeace, Save the Rainforest and The Tibet Fund, and Groupon has fundraising widgets for each on its “Save the Money” landing page. Groupon will match up to $100,000 in donations, totaling as much as $200,000 for each nonprofit.
  7. On that note, The Tibet Fund said it was “delighted” to be approached as part of the ad, but the group acknowledges the spot’s critics. “Whether you agree with Groupon’s creative choices,” The Tibet Fund’s site notes, “the goal of the campaign is to raise awareness and funds to help Tibetan refugees who are struggling with the very real problem of survival outside their homeland.”
  8. The fish curry from the restaurant featured in the ad isn’t necessarily amazing, but “the flavors are well balanced, its spiciness a loud presence without being an overburden.”

@griner david.griner@adweek.com David Griner is creative and innovation editor at Adweek and host of Adweek's podcast, "Yeah, That's Probably an Ad."
Publish date: February 9, 2011 https://dev.adweek.com/creativity/8-things-know-about-groupons-tibet-ad-11580/ © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT