Every year, when the Super Bowl rolls around there are some of us who tune in for the action, and some of us who tune in for the advertising.

It’s the only time of the year we don’t want to fast forward through the commercials.

With airtime priced at a premium, and millions of viewers expected to be attached to their TV’s in real time, this is an opportunity for products to hit their target market… Well, their target has got to be in there somewhere since over 151 million people will watch at least part of the Super Bowl.

At least this was the theory Groupon was going with when they decided to break their air-wave silence and go from being the word of mouth internet coupon brand to finally smashing into prime time with over 3 million dollars in controversial advertising. I don’t think they set out to create offensive advertising when you see the full story on their point of view in their blog.

But they definitely raised the twitter alert after they aired their, “Save Tibet” commercial.

Tweets looked like this:

Wow, Groupon’s SuperBowl ad managed to piss off Tibetans, Chinese, even the Himalayan Restaurant’s owner. Good job!

Worst Ad? Groupon.com. Opression of Tibet is funny? Tim Hutton – what happened to you?

Having a brother-in-law who escaped from Tibet/persecution, feel Groupon’s leverage of Tibetan plight for humor in poor taste

Groupon seems to have achieved the unique feat of paying $3M to lose customers who previously loved them.

Groupon spends big on Superbowl commercials, but ads anger many viewers

Groupon久慈版でないかしらね (All I know is <---that can't be good....) now they are under fire from many bloggers, and loyal fans as being insensitive to the very causes actually supporting on their website. would have been nice if they’d fit fact that these into advertising. the problem with a commercial is you only 30 seconds convey your message. trying create complex tongue in cheek poke at yourself while exhibiting support causes, that’s hard thing second span. This backlash may be what happens when social media brands try to go “Old School.”

You can write nuances down in a blog, which they did in the hopes that people will better understand the intended humor behind what they were trying to accomplish. But if no one reads the blog, and no one realizes that they are actually trying to support these causes with both their commercials and with donation ports set up on their website…well then their “Old School” commercials fall short of their mark, and their “New Media” message, save the rainforest, save the whales, and save Tibet.

They could have better conveyed their message in a longer 2-5 minute mocumentary style video blog and had better success promoting that across their usual social media channels. The following three super bowl commercials has everyone talking about groupon. But is it all good?

What you don’t get from the ads below is that if you make donations to the three featured charities on their site, they will make matching donations up to $100,000 per charity. So in essence they meant to encourage people to donate to the causes if they feel they’ve saved enough money by taking advantage of their daily deals…would have been good to get that into their ads somehow…

Save the Whales

Save Tibet

Save the Rainforest

I’m a huge advocate of large companies teaming up with causes and charities, to help create awareness and help increase donations to these worthy causes. But I think groupon may have fallen short due to the limitations of the medium they picked to convey their message. It will be interesting to see how this foray into television advertising effects their brand.

Will their loyal fans be forgiving? Will the message that they were trying to convey eventually get out there?

Only time will tell.