As the blame game begins in the next episode of the Groupon Super Bowl tragicomedy, all eyes are now transfixed on the ad agency that singlehandedly created the catastrophe: Crispin, Porter + Bogusky. The 1,000 strong agency has offices in the US, Canada and Europe, but no presence in Asia, which kinda shows.
Known for its viral marketing, the agency achieved notoriety on the back of high profile campaigns such as Burger King Whopper Virgins and Microsoft’s “I’m a PC”. (Btw, we hope they realise their website has been overrun by an avalanche of negative tweets and news reports)
Did none of the agency’s creative directors, account executives and Groupon’s own marketing honchos hold back for a second, and ask: Wait a minute, maybe this whole campaign is not such a good idea after all? Apparently so. Now Groupon will have a high price to pay. The US$3 million they blew in 30 seconds will be nothing compared to the cost of being kept out of the Chinese market should the government decide to ban the company for being a sympathiser of Tibetan independence.
Maybe over the next few days, heads will roll, but maybe the more important question now is — who is Groupon’s PR agency, and will they be able to save the company out of this quagmire?
UPDATE 1: Fast Company informs us Alex Bogusky, one of the three partners of the agency, and supposedly an ad prodigy. quit the ad business several months back. They joke, “Let’s hope Groupon got at least 33.3% off on the deal”.UPDATE 2: Miles Nadal, chairman and CEO of MDC Partners which owns the agency, tells CNBC, “It’s been exceedingly effective… They have over 50,000 new customers that have come on board since the ad ran, so its actually drawing the kind of business performance that we expected it to… You have to understand there is a difference between popularity and business effectiveness,” Nadal said, adding, “strategically Groupon has always dealt with social issues from the very evolution of the business… We’re happy to be part of the conversation.”