Groupon and LivingSocial and football, oh my!

Faith Merino · February 7, 2011 · Short URL:

Groupon rolls out B&N deal the same weekend it releases its Super Bowl ads, alongside LivingSocial

Groupon didn’t pull any punches this weekend as it unloaded both a 50% off Barnes & Noble Groupon on Saturday and several hilarious, celebrity-peppered Super Bowl ads on Sunday, launching the collective-buying giant into a no-holds-barred competition with LivingSocial.  So when the dust settles, who will emerge the victor?

Let’s recap.  As many might remember, a couple of weeks ago, LivingSocial launched an Amazon promotion in which subscribers could purchase a $20 Amazon gift card for $10 (catch: you can’t give the gift card to someone else).  LivingSocial ended up selling more than one million gift cards and subsequently experienced an 80% spike in traffic, for the first time eclipsing Groupon.

In a virtually identical move, Groupon offered subscribers a $20 Barnes & Noble deal for $10—the company’s third national deal, following similar deals for The Gap and Nordstrom Rack).  However, while LivingSocial actually paid for the entire Amazon deal out-of-pocket, Groupon’s Barnes & Noble deal reflects any other daily deal: Barnes & Noble issued the deal and has capped the number of deals available for purchase.

Groupon still leads with 44 million subscribers to LivingSocial’s 20 million, but LivingSocial has obviously made its presence known, and Groupon recognizes the threat it poses.  Last week, Groupon confirmed that it bought a spot in the Super Bowl and would be running ads both before and after the game. 

“We decided it was time to expose this brand in a big way, on the biggest stage,” said Groupon president and COO Rob Solomon to the New York Times.

The move is not only guaranteed to boost Groupon’s traffic—it’s sure to catapult the company to mainstream brand recognition.  In short: the word “Groupon” will replace the word “coupon” in the average American household.

"Groupon's decision to run during the Super Bowl is smart—they will likely acquire tens of millions of new users and officially separate themselves from the pack of commodity 'deal sites' by becoming a household brand,” said Ari Jacoby, CEO of captcha-ad company Solve Media, to VatorNews.  “Super Bowl audiences are highly engaged and looking for memorable ads to discuss on Monday morning.  Advertisers like Groupon can parlay that television success online by reaching audiences at critical moments where they are most attentive to ensure optimal brand and message recall—captcha advertising is a good example of that."

But Groupon isn’t the only daily deal site harnessing the Super Bowl’s engagement magic to reach mainstream brand recognition.  LivingSocial also bought a spot for its ad about a man who becomes addicted to LivingSocial deals.  Groupon couldn’t let this pass unnoticed, however, and released an ad of its own about a man who becomes addicted to Groupon deals.

So what is the inevitable next step?  Ads in the Puppy Bowl



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