Monday, February 7, 2011

FTT Off-Topic: Anatomy of that bad Groupon ad

As many of you know, my day job is in advertising, which means that my Super Bowl consumption is total. It also means that my understanding of commercials has to be on a different level. It's kind of a prerequisite of the gig. I also spent this year's SB in a broad cross-section of Middle American folks; Steeler fans, and almost assuredly more conservative than me on, well, just about everything. That's the nice thing about sports; you can discuss them with anyone.

So when this ad came on...

Well, the room went off. So much so that the reveal of how it's not about politics at all was lost. Angry grunts of "Why are you ruining our party?" and "We got problems of our own in this country!" were heard. What wasn't heard was any kind of reaction to a buy one get one offer, that signing up was free, and the social/viral aspect of such things. Total miss.

(Oh, and anyone who did give a fig for Tibetan independence? Well, I suspect they were not too thrilled with having their cause trivialized for discount fish curry. Just a guess.)

Now, I know how this thing got made. It was shown in a conference room filled with people at rapt attention. It was stared down with the focus of everyone in the room, all of them desperate to make the best possible ad, considering the cost and need to separate themselves from competitors. A celebrity was pitched and landed (and yes, Timothy Hutton counts; the only non-negative reaction in my crowd was "Hey, that's the guy from 'Leverage'.") An element of humor was injected, and in all likelihood, other options were made and considered. When everyone signed off and left the room, they thought they made something good.

All because they were, well, totally divorced from the audience and the context.

So the next time you see an ad that just misses the mark as badly as this one did, remember one thing...

It's a team effort.

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