Groupon's mentality with its Super Bowl ad seemed to be, essentially, "I have a brother that's overweight, so it's OK for me to make fat jokes." They're helping to raise money for Tibetan people, so they can make fun of them. I don't buy that mentality, and I don't know why they thought it was a good idea.
But they continue to seem to not get it (emphasis mine):
Groupon CEO Andrew Mason yesterday addressed the ensuing controversy, saying that the ad actually was intended to make fun of Groupon (not the poor suckers in Tibet). Moreover, it was designed to help Groupon expand its many charitable endeavors. Mason seems sincere, but a social marketing guru Paul Gillin noted in the blog comments: 'If you have to explain a joke, then it was a bad joke in the first place.'
They've apparently pulled the Tibet ad, but kept two other ads that feature the same kind of misguided humor. Which is weird because, to me, the issue wasn't Tibet, it was the mentality that went into the ad. It makes me think that they really don't understand what about the ad offended some people. That, or they're just getting away with as much as they can without having to sack a multimillion dollar ad campaign.
Final thought: Nikki pointed out something really smart last night: If Groupon would've reversed the ad -- started with Timothy Hutton eating fantastic Himalayan food at a discount, and then mentioned that, "Oh-by-the-way, I'm also contributing to a worthy cause" -- Groupon would've avoided any sense of controversy and scored major points for doing good deeds. As it stands, they'll have to see if they can take the negative sentiment and turn it into an "any press is good press" situation.