It was a pretty tame year for Super Bowl ads. There were a few standout moments. A few that fell flat. But what was up with the ads from online coupon company Groupon? Courting controversy is always a way to get publicity... and that's good if you believe that all publicity is good publicity. The company's ads about deforestation and whales were borderline. But this ad making light of the political struggles the Tibetan people face with mainland China? Beyond the pale.
Groupon's CEO, Andrew Mason (a self-described "corporate d-bag"), told the Wall Street Journal that he was surprised by the backlash and that the ads were only meant as a "spoof" of celebrity public service announcements. He says his company takes the plight of Tibet seriously and intends to raise money for its people.
As a fan of Leverage, I was disappointed to see Timothy Hutton provide the narration. Edgy comedians can often get away with jokes that would be, in any other scenario, completely inappropriate. That's what makes the comedy of people like Louis C.K. so brilliant. But outside the context of an already-darkly humorous monologue from such skilled comedians... jokes like this don't work. Especially with mainstream audiences like the one watching the Super Bowl.
As for the other commercials, a lot of people seem to like this ad by Chrysler featuring Eminem. It was moving, but it probably would've worked better if his claymation doppelgänger hadn't already tried to sell us all iced tea (why didn't Ice T do that ad, instead?). So the obvious winner from the game (aside from Green Bay, of course)? No contest: Volkswagen.