Insensitive SuperBowl Ads Draw Attention

Image: GrouponRUS
Image: GrouponRUS

During the SuperBowl, advertisers always run some really interesting or funny ads. Recently, some ads ran during the SuperBowl that have been creating some controversy.

The ads were for a company called Groupon. Groupon sells discounted tickets for events and products.

In one ad, well-known actor Timothy Hutton talks about Tibet. In Tibet, the people have faced many challenges such as lack of freedom to be an independent country. It is an old and very serious issue. In the ad, Hutton talks about Tibet’s problems. He seems quite serious. The viewer sees images of Tibet and some Tibetan people. He says, “The people of Tibet are in trouble. Their very culture is in jeopardy.”

But then he cheers up and says, “But they still whip up an amazing fish curry!” The viewer sees that Hutton is in a Tibetan restaurant. He is smiling and enjoying himself. He tells the viewer that you can save money by buying a Groupon discount at a great Tibetan restaurant in Chicago.

The ad was shocking to many people. They expected the ad to be about Tibetans many very serious issues. When it turns out to be an ad to promote a product, many people watching the SuperBowl became angry. They went on the Internet to express their anger that Groupon was making fun of such a serious issue.

Groupon says they created the ad (and others similar to it) to draw attention to their product. They said that while they knew it might be offensive to some, it would create a stir and get people to buy their product. And appears to have worked. Before the SuperBowl was even over, Groupon had made 50,000 new sales. SuperBowl ads are very expensive. One 30-second ad costs $2.6 million, not including the cost to make the ad itself.


Writing/Discussion Prompt
One of the reasons that people were so upset about the advertisement is that they expected it to be about the struggle of Tibetans, but it was actually an advertisement for Groupon. People often get very upset when they expect one thing, but they get another.  Have you ever had an experience when you expected something but it didn’t happen?  How did you react?

Advertisements for the SuperBowl cost at least $2.6 million dollars.  Do you think that this is money well spent?

Reading Prompt
As the article explains, people in Tibet have faced many challenges.  The SuperBowl advertisement seems to make a joke out of their very difficult situation.
Do you think Groupon went too far?  Do you think they should have been allowed to show this commercial?

Express personal thoughts and feelings about what has been read (OME, Reading: 1.8)

Make judgments and draw conclusions about the ideas and information in texts and cite stated or implied evidence from the text to support their views (OME, Reading: 1.8) 

Grammar Feature: Past Tense
When we write about something that happened in the past, we often need to change how we write the word.  For example: “In Tibet, the people have faced many challenges such as lack of freedom to be an independent country.”  Instead of writing “face,” the journalist wrote “faced.”

Write or say the past tense of the following words: walk, talk, jump and laugh.  What do you need to do in order to change these words to the past tense?  Can you think of any words that don’t follow this rule?