Does a Donation Fix Bad Commercials?

So the big news coming out of the Big Game is of course who won and failed on the commercials. I’ve been watching the Volkswagen Darth Vader commercial for days, and my kids think that it’s by far the best. (Of course, they’re on a Star Wars kick at the moment, so anything with Darth Vader had an unfair advantage, anyway.) See it here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R55e-uHQna0

And then there are the losers, and in this case the big loser we’re talking about is Groupon. After sharing several causes that people are passionate about, such as the destruction of rainforests and the rights of Tibet, the commercials proceeded to trivialize these causes by somehow equating them to saving money with Groupon.

See the Groupon Tibet commercial here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=ycwmYbK0gIQ

What I find most horrifying about all of this is that Groupon somehow intended that these commercials would foster donations to these causes. Despite the fact that Groupon trivialized these causes so badly in these ads.

Here’s what Groupon had to say on their blog:

The gist of the concept is this: When groups of people act together to do something, it’s usually to help a cause. With Groupon, people act together to help themselves by getting great deals. So what if we did a parody of a celebrity-narrated, PSA-style commercial that you think is about some noble cause (such as “Save the Whales”), but then it’s revealed to actually be a passionate call to action to help yourself (as in “Save the Money”)?

So what you’re saying, Groupon, is that you’re taking causes that would actually help big, important issues, and turning them into narcissism? Way to go.

But wait, there’s more.

And if you’ve saved enough money for yourself and feel like saving something else, you can donate to mission-driven organizations that are doing great work for the causes featured in our PSA parodies. If you guys pony up, Groupon will contribute matching donations of up to $100,000 for three featured charities – Rainforest Action NetworkbuildOn, and the Tibet Fund — and Groupon credit of up to $100,000 for contributions made to Greenpeace.

So what do you think? Does Groupon redeem itself from these awful commercials because it’s going to donate money? Or would they have been better off donating the money they spent on these ads to the charities themselves? Share in the comments.

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