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Does Groupon Offer Discounts for Crisis Communications?
By: Shawn Paul Wood
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Ever since Super Bowl XLV, Groupon's image of helping out the common man has been swirling down the toilet bowl of public perception. The downward spiral began with a cavalcade of Oscar winners to mock charitable donations in an effort to be cheeky. Well, the millions who watched the game saw the cheek only to miss Groupon's collective cow tongue firmly planted inside of it. No one laughed. No one giggle snorted. Not even a cheap guffaw.

Instead, Groupon's CEO Andrew Mason received more hate mail than the Grammys did for choosing that Esperanza Spalding chick over Bieber Fever. So, he pulls the ads and offered a crafted mea culpa in an effort to save face.

"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 late Thursday. "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."

Fall on that sword, Mr. Mason. Good job. But, while you're down there, let's talk roses, shall we? According to a nice read from Time magazine, Groupon and FTD seemed to be in cahoots during the day of love. The bedeviled discount company was supposed to give all fortunate FTD customers $40 worth of flowers for only $20. Great deal, right? Not so much when said customers noticed these flowers offered were much more expensive than the same ones offered on the FTD website. Doh! As the Time article says:

"FTD President Rob Apatoff claimed the company did not increase prices for the Groupon customers. He pointed out that, either way, the customers with Groupons are getting better deals than the website's sale price."

When does someone at the discount dynamo scream, "Stop the madness"? These days, where everyone is looking for the next overnight technological success, Groupon stood out. They owned the market. They demanded attention. Now, it's a case of "be careful what you wish for, because you just might get it." Now, everyone notices when they make mistakes, followed by a mass exodus to the nearest blog to point them out.

Think about it: Their rise to notoriety had its zenith at the Super Bowl of all places, and then gravity took over as they came crashing back to Earth. That sound you heard was how hard the mighty have fallen, which was hopefully slowed by Groupon landing on their advertising agency, although the crisis communications weren't up to par.

Don't worry. Groupon will get back up. Americans are great when it comes to forgiveness, especially if you give them something for it.

So, dust yourself off, Groupon. Get back to discounts on back rubs, hand saws, and yoga classes. Welcome the good vibes and the next time some smarmy ad exec says, "I have a great idea that will get everyone watching the Super Bowl talking about you," run as fast as you can to the closest florist. Flowers fix everything, including memory blocks.


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About the Author
Shawn Paul Wood is a hack-turned-flack with more than 20 years of collective journalism, copywriting and marketing communications experience. Shawn Paul is founder of Woodworks Communications in Dallas, Texas. If you need him, ping him here or follow him on Twitter @ShawnPaulWood
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