Groupon’s Super Bowl ad: Not so Super for the Chinese?


Super Bowl ads are always one of the most buzzed conversations after the game. However, not all of them have positive effects.

Groupon, an American based company, came up with a Super Bowl ad featuring Timothy Hutton to help preserve the Tibetan culture Sunday on Fox. The ad soon raised opposition from the Chinese, making us question: is cultural involvement a good strategy to promote your brand in China?

It is difficult to master cultural awareness. A joke that evokes a sense of humor in one culture could go totally flat with another. Like Kenneth Cole using the Egypt’s revolution to promote his new collection on Twitter last week, Groupon’s Tibet Super Bowl ad is another inappropriate use of sensitive political issues.

To use cultural involvement as a strategy to promote its brand in China, it is essential for a foreign company to be cautious and well aware of the Chinese culture. China is a traditional country where the Chinese are in general very loyal and highly protective to their culture values. If a company fails to use the strategy appropriately, it would be hard for the company to turn things right even in a long period of time.

Besides, the fact that China is right in the process of changing makes it even harder for others to develop a clear cultural awareness of it. While the country shows great liberality in some perspectives, it could be rather conservative with others. Cultural involvement might be a great strategy in some places; however, when it comes to China, the foreigners better consider taking more cautious steps.

The Super Bowl might often start and end without stirring any issue related to China. Groupon has definitely left an impression to the country this year. Do the Chinese find it super though?

About carolchl

Carol Chia Lee is a first-year graduate student who majors in Public Relations at University of Southern California. Gradated from the University of National ChengChi University, Carol earned her BA degree in Psychology in Taiwan. During her senior year in college, she was an exchange student to Université Paris 1 Panthéon Sorbonne, France. Having experienced very different journey in the Europe, Carol decided to pursue her advance study in the States to better embrace diverse cultures.
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One Response to Groupon’s Super Bowl ad: Not so Super for the Chinese?

  1. meifong says:

    good point about cultural insensitivity–however Groupon doesn’t operate in China and might have taken a calculated bet that the controversy raised is worth raising some hackles in China. But other companies have fallen foul of this in the past–one of the most famous examples being LeBron James in a Nike ad, shown punching a dragon. Folks saw the dragon as symbolizing China, and Nike had to yank the ad subsequently.

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