Groupon’s controversial Super Bowl ads poking fun at various causes and the celebrities who promote them—endangered whales, the destruction of the Brazilian rainforest, and the plight of the people of Tibetreceived much criticism and wrung an apology out of its CEO. But there was a point of view that any press is good press and some evidence that the buzz on Groupon was long, loud, and trending positive in social media circles.

The Groupon case was a point of some disagreement when The Brainzooming Group and various other contributors discussed what lessons smaller businesses could learn from the hits and misses of the mega advertisers on the February 11, 2011 edition of Smart Companies Radio.

It now appears that while people may have been talking about Groupon, what they weren’t doing was going to the Groupon website and registering for its service.

Fast Company reports that according to Nielsen, Groupon’s web traffic increased only 3% in the week following the Super Bowl compared to the week before. Other Super Bowl advertisers fared much better. was up 41%, Volkswagen 27%, 27%, and Mercedes Benz 9%.

There is a certain paradox here. Few would argue that the Groupon ads are that much more repulsive than the GoDaddy spots. Yet the GoDaddy ads generated little controversy and produced outstanding results. I can think of two reasons the GoDaddy ads work and the Groupon ones do not. First, we have come to expect a certain level of sophomoric humor and sexist leering from the GoDaddy brand. The ads may not be laudable, but they fulfill our brand expectations. Making fun of downtrodden peoples is not what we expect from Groupon.

Secondly the GoDaddy ads have a clear call to action. “Go to our website to see what we couldn’t show you here.” Groupon’s say you can save money, but they never even go so far as to show you the full web address. - Barrett Sydnor

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