After a two-year holdout, we finally decided to run real television ads. In the past, we’ve depended mostly on word-of-mouth and limited our advertising to online search for a couple of reasons. For one, we don’t know if television ads are worth the money. More importantly, television ads are such a huge creative statement, and so hard to do well, that we were worried it’d be near impossible to find an ad agency that could make ads we’d be confident in airing.
This year, we realized that in spite of how much we’d grown, a ton of people still hadn’t heard of Groupon, so we decided to give in to our Napoleon complex and invade the rest of the world with a proper Super Bowl commercial.
The trouble was figuring out what to do and with whom to work. We had tried working with creative agencies before and had never been that impressed. Our peculiar taste in humor made it really hard for outside agencies to come up with concepts we liked. This time around, we had better luck with the ad firm Crispin Porter + Bogusky. We really admired some of the work that CP+B had done in the past, so we gave them a shot at pitching us concepts, and they came up with an idea we couldn’t resist blowing millions of dollars on.
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”)?
Since we grew out of a collective action and philanthropy site (ThePoint.com) and ended up selling coupons, we loved the idea of poking fun at ourselves by talking about discounts as a noble cause. So we bought the spots, hired mockumentary expert Christopher Guest to direct them, enlisted some celebrity faux-philanthropists, and plopped down three Groupon ads before, during, and after the biggest American football game in the world.
You can view the already aired commercials, as well as new ones as we release them, at SaveTheMoney.org . 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 Network]( http://my.groupon.com/deals/rainforest-action-network), [buildOn]( http://my.groupon.com/deals/buildon), and the [Tibet Fund]( http://my.groupon.com/deals/the-tibet-fund) — and Groupon credit of up to $100,000 for contributions made to [Greenpeace]( http://my.groupon.com/deals/greenpeace).