Only a few months ago, Groupon sent me interesting offers. Good restaurants. Nice things. Things I actually bought into from time to time.



Now I get Groupon offers for helicopter tours and photo montages and day-spas. These are things I will never spend money on.



The Groupon business model, so far as I am concerned, has collapsed, in something like record time (and certainly much faster than Tulipomania). And just in time for their initial public offering, which will be mega-brilliant!



The Times saw it coming. Groupon mostly focused on restaurants at first, but even then, the restaurants realized they were losing money on Groupon customers. It was money that would have been spent on advertising – but most restaurants do very little advertising anyway. (Think about it. Where do they usually advertise? High-school yearbooks! The Penny Saver!)



Then there is the whole issue of the Groupon Voice: the nastily “funny” mode in which the Groupon emails are written. They joke around, they make stuff up. (They talk about the riding stable that’s “closed on Horse Christmas.” They talk about the “meat surgeons” at the steak restaurant. Haw haw!) This is hipsterishly amusing, but can backfire when one lives in a non-hipster world, i.e., this world right here.



Last February, Groupon splashed some television commercials, in one of which Timothy Hutton spoke of the plight of the people of Tibet – and then of its delicious cuisine. Segue to Groupon logo.



Funny, right?



Lots of people thought not.



Groupon gives a quiz to writers to determine if they understand the “Groupon Voice.” You should take it. It’s all wrong. For example: which of the following is the most interesting description of a 4700-pound chandelier? Choose one:



  • A: Really big and shiny

  • B: More brilliant than a studious Christmas tree

  • C: A death trap

  • D: Blinged out



For me, the funniest answers are C, D, and A, in that order. B has too many words, and is too labored.



The official Groupon answer is B.



I understand Groupon’s unwillingness to call something they’re advertising a “death trap.” But there’s a little thing called “litotes,” which is furiously at work in both A and D, and which makes them both very funny. B is stuffy. B has too many words. Shorter is always funnier, Groupon people!



Groupon will be dead soon. Other (and cleverer) companies will have analyzed their business model, found work-arounds for its flaws, and taken over Groupon’s territory. Groupon will join AOL and MySpace soon, no matter what happens with their IPO, which (I’m sure) will be more brilliant than a studious Christmas tree.



You just wait and see.




About Loren Williams
Gay, partnered, living in Providence, working at a local university. Loves: books, movies, TV. Comments and recriminations can be sent to

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: