Groupon unleashed what many believed to be a historic gaffe on Friday, when it unleashed a President's Day weekend holiday deal worth $10 off a $40 local business deal. In doing so, the company said "The $10 bill, as everyone knows, features President Alexander Hamilton," who most people know never advanced beyond Treasury Secretary. On Monday, though, Groupon 'fessed up to USA Today: It was an early April Fools' Day stunt.
Company spokesman Bill Roberts said in an e-mail:
We were just looking for a way to make President's Day a little less boring. We started with the understanding that there's nothing people like more that pointing out that someone else is wrong. In fact, they like it so much they don't really stop to think about whether it was on purpose.
But we were pleased some of the more savvy followers enjoyed the joke.
Indeed, if this had been run on April 1, this might have been seen for what it was: a promotional stunt. Roberts added that the public reaction was "pretty much in line with what we expected."
We're not sure if being called "idiots" was what they expected, but that is what happened. Meanwhile, not everyone believed their explanation. Award-winning AP journalist Ron Harris tweeted:
Sounds like @Groupon is trying to parlay their "President's Day" Alexander Hamilton offer into an of-course-we-knew-that moment. Hard fail.
A big fail on the part of a Groupon marketing campaign wouldn't be new. Its 2011 Super Bowl ads, which were blasted for their insensitivity to actual social issues, earned the company a great big social media slap on the wrist.