For the first time since 2011, Groupon Inc., No. 26 in the Internet Retailer 2017 Top 500, is advertising during the Super Bowl.
Groupon is a markedly different company than it was seven years ago when it was an upstart attracting headlines such as “Meet The Fastest Growing Company Ever.” Groupon launched as a daily deal site and later came to sell physical goods and travel packages. But under the helm of CEO Rich Williams, Groupon has embarked on a major shift to reduce what Williams calls “empty calories,” the low- to negative-margin products that drive short-term increases in revenue but do little to generate long-term profits. One of those low-margin areas is Groupon Goods, the company’s division that sells physical goods. At the same time, Groupon has been trying to position itself as a marketing platform for local businesses.
“We believe that we can do more for local businesses than any other company,” says John Wild, vice president, North America marketing.
Groupon continues to sell physical goods under the banner of Groupon Goods; however, it increasingly sees that division as complementary to its core local offers, Wild says. “Goods is a great customer activator, it helps us acquire new customers and introduce them to our brand,” he says. “But where we stand out is our ability to help local businesses market.”
That’s the focus of the Groupon’s ad, “Who Wouldn’t,” which features film star Tiffany Haddish ask the question, “What kind of person wouldn’t want to support local businesses?”
The ad depicts Haddish as a savvy shopper who uses Groupon to save money and help support local businesses. The commercial contrasts Haddish with a wealthy man who fails to understand the value of a family-run local business.
Groupon posted the commercial to YouTube on Jan. 25. Eight days later, the spot has been viewed nearly 7 million times.
“Those earned impressions are helping ensure the campaign pays off,” Wild says. It also is helping Groupon “build momentum” going into the Super Bowl, he says.
Beyond the TV commercial, Groupon worked with social media marketing firm SocialCode to roll out a campaign that began Jan. 22 that features six-, 15- and 30-second versions of the video on Facebook and Instagram. The six-second videos primarily are being used to remarket to consumers who have visited Groupon but not made a purchase; the 14-second ads are aimed at reactivating shoppers who have used Groupon in the past but who have had a significant lag since the last time they did so. Groupon also is using Facebook’s Lookalike Audiences tool, which seeks to model consumer groups that share characteristics with Groupon customers, to find prospective customers.
Here’s the 6-second ad:
Here’s the 15-second ad:
On Jan. 15, Groupon also began posting 25 other video clips featuring Haddis to Facebook and Instagram. It plans to continue posting those videos through Feb. 15.
In addition to running those video ads on Facebook, Groupon plans to run three additional mobile video ads that aim to kick off its Valentine’s Day campaign featuring Haddish, starting Feb. 8.
Groupon is running a similar campaign on Google, using the platform’s advanced targeting tools, such as Google’s advanced targeting tools such as Customer Match (a tool that enables a retailer to upload its email lists to find its customers when they search on Google), remarketing lists for search ads (RLSA) (a tool that enables a retailer customize its search ads campaign for consumers who have previously visited its site) and Similar Audiences (a tool in which Google targets users who are searching the same terms as users recently added to the merchant’s RLSA lists, such as Customer Match).
It is also running paid search campaigns built around long-tail keywords related to the video and the Super Bowl, Wild says. “We’re trying to anticipate the search terms people will use to look for the ad,” he says. Those types of search campaigns can prove extremely important to brands seeking drive a positive return from their ads, according to data released by Hitwise, which is part of digital marketing firm Connexity Inc. For instance, after Kia’s “Hero’s Journey” ad last year, the number of consumers searching for variations of “Kia Niro,” the car featured in the commercial, nearly tripled after the Super Bowl, Hitwise says.
Groupon aims for the ads to drive traffic, revenue and customer acquisition, Wild says. “The digital ads help us measure the impact of the campaign,” he says.
Groupon hired Haddish as its spokeswoman after she described on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” how she used a Groupon to take Will and Jada Pinkett Smith on a swamp tour while filming the film “Girls Trip.” Groupon says Haddish ranks among the top 1% of its most frequent Groupon purchasers.
Groupon aims for this Super Bowl campaign to be very different from the last time it ran a spot during the game. The company, which was focused around daily deals, ran three commercials starring actors Cuba Gooding Jr., Elizabeth Hurley and Timothy Hutton. Each ad began with the premise that the star was advocating on behalf of a noteworthy cause (Gooding focused on saving whales, Hurley on the rain forests and Hutton on Tibet). Then, the commercial abruptly pivoted to the pitch.
For instance, Hutton began his commercial by saying, “The people of Tibet are in trouble. Their very culture is in jeopardy.” Then, he abruptly pivoted to note, “But they still whip up an amazing fish curry and since 200 of us bought at Groupon.com, we’re each getting $30 worth of Tibetan food for just $15 at Himalayan Restaurant in Chicago.”
Those ads, which sparked controversy, led Groupon to shift its advertising strategy. The company began focusing on digital ads such as search and display rather than TV ads. But, after building those channels up, it ventured back to TV in May 2016, Wild says.
“By that time we had a new story to tell,” he says. “We were no longer just a daily deal site focused around vouchers. Now, we want to tell that story and deliver that narrative.”