By Carrie Griffith
The battle between the online deal websites Groupon and LivingSocial was one of the most anticipated Super Bowl commercial match-ups this year. Both start-ups used controversial humor in pre-game and Super Bowl spots to get the word out about their daily deal sites. In the aftermath of eyebrow raises and social controversy, did the humor pay off?
From rainforest deforestation to mountainous Tibet, Groupon’s three 30-second spots seemed to have questionable (not to mention controversial) starts. Although the introductions seemed inappropriate, they stayed true to Groupon’s brand personality, known for its quirky lead-ins to deal descriptions. Groupon’s spots also gave non-users a good idea of how the daily deal service works. In the pre-game spot, Cuba Gooding Jr. says: “…since 100 of us bought on Groupon.com, we’re each getting an $86 whale-watching cruise for just $49.”
Groupon definitely flexed its new funding muscles—$377 million to be exact— and spent $3 million to produce and air its three Super Bowl spots. For its first offline advertising effort, the start-up partnered with big-name agency Crispin Porter & Bogusky. In addition to Gooding, the spots featured stars such as Elizabeth Hurley and Timothy Hutton.
From golf to go-karts to facials, LivingSocial’s pre-game spot depicted the wide range of deals that consumers can find on the website. In the campaign created by The Martin Agency, one man describes how his life has changed through his addiction to the online daily deals website. The man starts out macho and bearded, but through LivingSocial’s daily deals, ends up dressed as a woman. In the wake of social media backlash, it is obvious that LivingSocial made a big mistake in its choice of humor. Stuart Elliot, writer for The New York Time’s Media Decoder, said it best: “Yes, in 2011, advertisers still believe that transsexuals or cross-dressing is something to laugh at.”
The last time these two start-ups faced off, LivingSocial walked away victorious with the title of “Biggest Daily Deal” by selling over 13 million in the $10 Amazon.com flash deal. In fact, LivingSocial used some of the earning from this deal to fund their Super Bowl pre-game debut.
Who do you think won the offline match-up? Let us know in the comments!