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Super Bowl Commercials 2011: Groupon Pulls Controversial Ads After Negative Feedback

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During the Super Bowl, Groupon, a discount company that relies on participation benchmarks to trigger coupons, aired a few controversial ads making light of hot-button issues such as Tibet. The backlash they received, however, forced the company to pull the ads on Friday while apologizing for the controversy created. The Super Bowl commercials were meant to draw attention to causes Groupon was raising money for, but instead left many offended, wondering what the point of the ads was.

CEO Andrew Mason released a statement on his blog on Friday, apologizing for the confusion and vowing to pull the ads immediately.

We've listened to your feedback, and since we don't see the point in continuing to anger people, we're pulling the ads (a few may run again tomorrow - pulling ads immediately is sometimes impossible). We will run something less polarizing instead. We thought we were poking fun at ourselves, but clearly the execution was off and the joke didn't come through. I personally take responsibility; although we worked with a professional ad agency, in the end, it was my decision to run the ads.

The Tibet ad, which came under fire almost immediately, can be seen below. Is it controversial and in poor taste, or is there a deeper meaning to the commercial, meant to plug Groupon's discount while attempting to raise awareness about Tibet?

The commercial raised $500,000 for the cause, making it somewhat of a success, at least. The American public will still use Groupon and, perhaps, knows more about Tibet because of the commercials. The latter is debatable, but the issues, spurned on by the Super Bowl commercials, were a hot topic of conversation on the Monday after the big game. That has to count for something.

Groupon becomes the second company to yank commercials that debuted during the Super Bowl, joining HomeAway's "Test Baby" spot.

For more on Sunday's ads, check out our Super Bowl commercials StoryStream.