I was not planning on another Super Bowl ad post so soon, but after reading about the controversy surrounding Groupon’s series of Super Bowl ads I felt the need to comment. Many of you saw the ad where Groupon juxtaposed the human rights crisis in Tibet with their brand in one of their ads during the Superbowl. There were two others in this series, before and after the game, that made for a bad first impression for Groupon. One features Cuba Gooding Jr. lamenting the dwindling whale population and then praising a discounted whale-watching cruise. The other features Elizabeth Hurley’s distress over the endangered Amazon rainforests and then promotes a Brazilian wax deal. According to CNN Wire Staff
the controversial ads have been pulled. Now the question is, what’s next? Some, like Liz Strauss
, say an apology is necessary. I would like to take that concept one step farther, because I believe that it will take more than an apology to set things right for Groupon. This was their introduction to mass society, which means they need a reintroduction. In short, I think this reintroduction should come in the form of a rebrand. Rebranding is something that a lot of successful companies have had to do at some point or another, just look at Old Spice. Sometimes rebranding gets a bad rap as a death sentence, but if done correctly it can restore a company’s reputation. Judith Aquino’s “The 10 Most Successful Rebranding Campaigns Ever”
showcases lessons that could prove useful in determining the right moves for Groupon’s endeavor.
McDonald’s rebranding lesson was “Pay attention to what the public says about you and respond with products and services that counteract those accusations.” Groupon is accused of trivializing the causes it actually cares about. What Groupon intended to do was tie their brand back to charitable giving, as they have a donation website for the charitable causes related to their Super Bowl ads. Part of their rebrand should be focusing on the seriousness of their connection to charitable giving to counteract the humorous take that drove people away. Old Spice’s rebranding lesson is that “a clever ad + smart use of social media can produce a fresh identity.” Instead of a clever ad, Groupon needs a new commercial that introduces Groupon and ties it to those charitable causes in a straightforward manner. Then, Groupon needs to utilize social media to drive people to its donation site. Burberry’s rebranding lesson is that “brands can be successfully revamped by adapting current styles while celebrating its history.” Christopher Heine
cites Groupon’s origins as “ThePoint.com” and a place of “collective action and philanthropy” and reveals that Groupon was poking fun at their own roots. Instead, Groupon should celebrate their roots by drawing positive attention to themselves. Earth Day is April 22, and Groupon could easily use this as an opportunity to do that by offering special Earth Day deals and donating a portion of the proceeds. Then, to build trust, they could devote a YouTube channel to showing how those donations made an impact on the charitable causes Groupon supports. Naturally these are simply a jumping off point. Groupon may decide to do something totally different and that is their choice, as long as it brings about the same end result. The fact remains that there is a lot of relevance between these rebranding lessons and the steps that Groupon must take to repair their reputation and make good on their bad first impression. To put it in golf terms, Groupon needs to take a mulligan. However you look at it, Groupon needs to establish a fresh image and rebranding is a critical component. The next move is Groupon’s.