Midweek Media: Groupon

The Super Bowl here in the States is a Big Deal for companies. It’s when they pull out all the stops to wow the audience and capture the audience’s attention. Some are genius. Many are not. So many we might spend forever railing against them. Let’s focus on this one:

We see an image of mist over an expanse of trees. The camera moves as the voiceover begins, a woman’s voice, British accent, “The Brazilian rainforest, one of nature’s most lush ecosystems.”

We’re not in a close-up of the rainforest. From the left, Elizabeth Hurley steps out, revealing herself as the voiceover artist. She’s wearing a black halter dress.

“Hi, I’m Elizabeth Hurley.” Behind her, two monkeys play in a tree. “The rainforest is irreplaceable.” Behind her, there are bulldozers taking down trees. “Yet rampant deforestation is threatening this natural treasure.” The rainforest with a huge swathe of downed trees running through it. Back to Elizabeth, who is now wearing a white bathrobe and is in a spa-like room. “But not all deforestation is bad,” she says. There is the sound of ripping and a woman’s soft exclamation of pain. “And since 100 of us bought on Groupon.com, we’re all saving 50% on a Brazilian wax at Completely Bare in New York City.” Another ripping sound, another exclamation of pain.

The screen goes green, with the words “Save the money” then goes to a computer animated city street, one of the buildings shaded green, the rest grey. Above the green building, a blue bubble proclaiming “80% off” and there’s a “buy” button there.

Voiceover, male voice: “Unlock great deals in your town.” Back to green screen, with the Groupon logo in the middle. “Groupon.com.”


  1. Fey says

    I had never before made the connection that “Brasilian Wax”=All trees gone!
    Is this something that everybody else knew and my clueless self missed? If so, I did not need this in my life anyways, as it’s mostly REALLY DEPRESSING! (Also, I will never ever get a wax like that. Power to those who like it, but I don’t dig the sentiment of being down on my body for growing hair. It’s HAIR, why the drama?)

    But mostly, I found that my eyes were getting bigger and bigger as I stared at the screen. Then my mouth fell open (luckily I didn’t drool). Then, I don’t even know what then????

  2. Casey says

    There’s also a commercial for Groupon with Cuba Gooding Jr. taking about saving the whales…only NOT. He’s shilling discount tickets for whale-watching.

  3. says

    FAIL. I’m speechless.
    Maybe next year we’ll se something like: “this is [insert poor tropical country here]. Every year a lot of children die due to diarrhea. Foul bacteria in their water supply threaten these little children’s lives. But not all bacteria is bad! Try the new ‘Douchebag’ yoghurt with probiotic cultures that help you keep your inner balance (I love how they always try to coat pooping with glamourous euphemisms)- now in its new flavour Papaya, with real [enter demonym for the aforementioned country] papaya flesh!”

  4. says

    Where do you begin?

    There was a tweet recently of a fashion label saying people in Egypt were in the streets because of the new spring collection. The juxtaposition with a rain forest seems similarly misguided.

    And then, of course, the social pressure that women need to be “completely bare”. Ugh.

    • Korva says

      What. The.

      People were tortured, maimed and murdered in that country, and some SHITHEADS not only usurped that struggle for freedom and dignity for their own money-grubbing ends, but used it to peddle something as utterly vapid and meaningless as “fashion”?

      Surely people and companies have been sued for less, there should be some way to get them by the balls for this. I just can’t believe it or properly express my disgust without using words I’m trying to wean myself off.

      And this waxing commercial? I’m sorry but is that supposed to be funny or clever? The contents of my trash bin are more amusing. Oh my what yucky things happen in some silly faraway places, but you worry your precious privileged head! This shitty, useless trash I can sell you will make it all better. For you. No one really cares about those silly faraway places, do they? Not if you have disgusting HAIR that you absolutely MUST get rid of or you can’t ever be PRETTY and get a MAN.


      On the other hand — spread such commercials far and wide, I say, hopefully people with a shred of empathy and two brain cells to rub together would see them for what they are and never, ever buy anything from such companies again.

      I hate, hate, HATE advertising.

  5. megsies says

    Thankfully they’ve pulled this series of commercials. I guess they were going for some self-depreciation sort of satire and it just doesn’t even work on that level, so all you’re left with is offensive and terrible.

  6. says

    I actually laughed at the time I saw this, but it was like a WTF laugh. I can’t remember the last time I saw such bald-faced privelege on display.

    • sbg says

      Good! I can’t imagine what anyone involved was thinking. I particularly hated the Timothy Hutton one.

      ETA: But, ugh, then I read the link. It was a classic, “we’re sorry you were offended, but we didn’t MEAN TO” and then the comments section made me sigh with resignation, as many of them leaned toward “we’re so sorry some people who only look hard for things to offend them made you pull your ads…”

      Because, yeah, I didn’t have to look hard at all.

  7. SunlessNick says

    As well as the rainforest fail, I like* the association of “good deforestation” with the sound of women in pain.

    * For sufficiently small values of like.

    • sbg says

      Excellent point I was hoping someone would bring up. My first gut reaction to that commercial was honestly, “Wait, what is “not bad” about getting a Brazilian?”

      I know some swear by them. I swear by not inflicting pain upon myself to remove something that was, by design I think, meant to be there. 😉

  8. Sarah says

    During the Super Bowl I saw one for these guys that started out in Tibet talking about how Tibetans are losing their culture and then they ‘segue’ into saying how 30 of them got cheap Tibetan food because of Groupon. All of us in the room could not believe how tasteless that was.

  9. Djiril says

    They did sort of appeal to me as dark humor. They were literally saying “there are major problems and important things happening in the world, but you only care about what you can buy, so use our service!”
    Sure, any actual claim to social consciousness is undermined by the fact that they were actually selling something, but when I looked at the ads, I got a very very visceral image of consumerism trying to destroy itself. I guess the extreme cynicism appeals to my mindset right now.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *