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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

Groupon pulls controversial Tibet Super Bowl ads

February 18, 2011

* By Lindsay Powers
Fri Feb 11, 2011 2:51pm EST

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Deal-of-the-day website Groupon has
pulled its controversial Super Bowl ads that made light of Tibet's
oppression against China's Communist regime.

"One thing is clear -- our ads offended a lot of people," admitted
founder Andrew Mason on the company's blog Thursday.

"We hate that we offended people, and we're very sorry that we did --
it's the last thing we wanted," Mason added. "We've listened to your
feedback, and since we don't see the point in continuing to anger
people, we're pulling the ads."

Several of the company's spots, which were directed by Best in Show's
Christopher Guest, will continue to air on Friday because they were
previously scheduled.

"We thought we were poking fun at ourselves, but clearly the execution
was off and the joke didn't come through," Mason added. "I personally
take responsibility; although we worked with a professional ad agency,
in the end, it was my decision to run the ads."

"Our ads highlight the often trivial nature of stuff on Groupon when
juxtaposed against bigger world issues… " he went on. "To those who were
offended, I feel terrible that we made you feel bad. While we've always
been a little quirky, we certainly aren't trying to be the kind of
company that builds its brand on creating controversy -- we think the
quality of our product is a much stronger message."

In the Tibet ad, Timothy Hutton seriously recounts the country's human
rights issues before the camera pans out to see him dining in an upscale
restaurant. He enthuses, "But they still whip up an amazing fish curry!"

Cuba Gooding Jr. mentions the dwindling number of whales before
promoting discounted whale-watching cruise and Elizabeth Hurley talks
about imperiled Amazon rainforests -- before bringing up a deal on
Brazilian wax ("not all deforestation is bad").

Mason said the company thought the ads would "bring more funding and
support to the highlighted causes." Groupon expects to "net over
$500,000" for the charities -- and says his company will match up to
$100,000.

Greenpeace biologist John Hocevar (the founder of Students for a Free
Tibet) blogged on Groupon that he supported the ads.

"Greenpeace is happily participating in the campaign," he wrote. "The
truth is that the 'Save the Money' campaign and the commercial are
really helping us save the whales."

HomeAway also re-edited one of ad campaign that featured a flying baby
smashing up against a wall. The new ad shows a spokesperson safely
catching the infant, handing it to mom and announcing, "Just a test baby."
CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
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