Ad Space – Something, Something … Free Tibet, I Guess?

You are now entering Ad Space, a realm of commercials, brought before us so we might examine how they work, and discuss why we both love and hate them so. So it is written …

The Product:
Preserving the autonomy and culture of the Tibetan people

The Promotion:

The Pitch:
Actually, scratch that. Just use Groupon to get cheap meals instead!

Wowzers. This ad … it’s competing with the Miracle Mattress 9/11 commercial for Most Tone Deaf Use of Real World Tragedy in Advertising.

To give this commercial some slack, it doesn’t seem to be making fun of what Tibet has endured under the People’s Republic of China. Certainly not in the same way that mattress store made fun of the 9/11 attacks. While it’s trying to be funny, the humor comes from juxtaposition; they deliberately make the segue from discussing a serious topic to hocking Groupon as abrupt and jarring as possible, hoping for a laugh that way.

And I did laugh, I’ll admit … but in a “Wow, that is fucked up” sort of way. They may not be directly mocking the Tibetan people, but it’s still using their very real suffering as the setup for a joke and a sales pitch. And suggests they can help you pay Tibetan businesses less for their service, to boot. It’s so glaringly insensitive, and such a completely unforced error … my mouth was literally hanging open by the end.

It almost feels like there was supposed to be a line about “we’re donating (x) amount of our profits to help Tibet”, then at the last minute they decided not to do that, cut that line out, but otherwise went with the ad as-is. But given Groupon did similar bait-and-switch commercials about saving the rainforest and saving the whales, I’m guessing what we got was always their plan.