Groupon’s Tibet Super Bowl Ad Riles China

Cam MacMurchy , July 30, 2015 9:03am (updated)

Groupon has been working hard to expand their operations in China amid a plethora of local competitors, and they didn’t help themselves out much with their much-yakked about Super Bowl ad. The Wall Street Journal summarizes it:

The commercial in question involves actor Timothy Hutton, who makes light of Tibet’s social ills by touting a discount offer on Groupon:

“Mountainous Tibet – one of the most beautiful places in the world. This is Timothy Hutton. The people of Tibet are in trouble, their very culture in jeopardy. But they still whip up an amazing fish curry. And since 200 of us bought on we’re getting $30 worth of Tibetan food for just $15 at Himalayan restaurant in Chicago.”

Obviously, as you can imagine, the Free Tibet crowd is up-in-arms over the advertisement, which it feels makes light of the current situation in Tibet. But Groupon has done something even more miraculous: angered both sides in the debate.

Posts on Sina’s microblog, known as Weibo, are biting in their criticism of the advertisement, especially as Groupon tries to grow inside the country. Below are a selection of posts, translated into English: (h/t @goldkorn)


Groupon AD is fucking stupid!


Liu Pei Yu: Come on Groupon . You are a fucking group buy website, why do you intervine with politics! If you want to save Tibetan culture, you should save your own Indian culture first!

@集成的世界:Groupon,想成为第二个Google吗?在Super Bowl上打出了free tibet的广告,想打入中国市场的Groupon此举让人真是难以理解
Yicheng de Shijie : Groupon, do you want to be the second Google? The free Tibet ad is unbelievable! Now Groupon wants to enter the China market?

我爱小贱:Super Bowl我没心情看了!Groupon什么玩意儿!有本事也在中国播这个广告,不是要进军中国么,还拯救西藏呢!
I have no interest anymore to watch Super bowl! What the fuck is Groupon doing? Dare it broadcast the ad in China? Want to enter China market now? Dreaming!

Wo ai xiao jian: Is Groupon people’s mind drained with water? A fucking ad about free Tibet? Is that even relevant? Pretend to care about human rights? Fuck!

It’s tough for any foreign company to make serious inroads in China, and Groupon just made its task a whole lot tougher.