Grouponification

by Elizabeth Yore

For I can raise no money by vile means.

-Shakespeare

The Chicago boys at Groupon headquarters could learn from a successful Chicago entrepreneur, McDonald’s Ray Kroc.

Ray was found of saying, “As long as you’re green, you’re growing. As soon as you’re ripe, you start to rot.”

Well, something is rotten at Groupon, since its e-coupon clipping business turned x-rated.

Move over, housewives, grandmothers, coupon clippers of America, the wild boys of Groupon bring you deals by promoting pornography and discounting degeneracy.

Thanks to the watchful eye of the anti-pornography nonprofit Morality in Media, the latest wanton Groupon coupon brings to light the dark side of Groupon. The ‘ripening” of their business plan raises questions about the maturity and ethical standards of their management team.

In April, Morality in Media exposed Groupon’s shameless promotion of Kink, a San Francisco-based pornographer that produces films depicting sadomasochistic torture and rape, bondage, and fetish sexual acts.


Groupon promoted Kink by selling coupons to tour the hard core pornography studio. By promoting and advertising Kink, Groupon sanctions the vile degradation of females which is the business plan of Kink. Let Kink describe its repulsive obscene cinematography:

Kink, which also sells porn videos and proudly offers live online torture porn performances, also notes on its site that, “Girls are also pulled in and out of cages, their tongues clamped, their bodies pinned, and their arms and legs strapped.” They also claim to employ “contraptions used in countries such as China for torture” as well as machines, water, metal, wood, electrodes, hooks, needles, and urination, all for the sexual persecution of women and “young teenage girls.”

Targeting Minors

This was the second time that Groupon promoted discounts for tours at the Kink torture porn studio. The boys at Groupon sent out an email blast to advertise the tour where folks could view a live filming of sadomasochistic, torture porn. Sex sells, especially when your stock price is falling. No doubt, children were recipients of the Kink coupon offer.Can you hear the questions at the dinner table, “Mommy, what is torture porn?”

Make no mistake, Groupon profits from the sale of these coupons to customers who tour the film studio of Kink. Groupon executives approved the coupon promotion of Kink as a revenue source for the discount e-coupon company. Andrew Mason’s team determined that promoting hard core pornography, which brutally objectifies women and “young teenage girls,” is profitable and improves the bottom line at Groupon. In the words of Shakespeare, it is “a vile means to make money.”

Why would Groupon sink to such base and gross advertisement? Visit Groupon’s website and they provide an answer. Groupon’sstated philosophy is that “we sell stuff we want to buy.” Aha! So the all male management team likes to tour Kink and party at the Playboy Mansion?

The Groupon boys need to know that research abounds that marriages are being destroyed by pornography. Pornography is one of the fastest growing addictions as men, women and, tragically, children are becoming addicted due to its proliferation and accessibility on the Internet. An alarming UK government study recently found that 1/3 of 10 year olds are exposed to pornographic images and 3/4 of 16 year old girls and boys regularly visit pornographic websites. The U.S. isn’t far behind.

While Groupon “wants to sell stuff that they like to buy,” it is a violation of U. S. law to distribute hardcore obscene pornography on the Internet, on cable/satellite TV, on hotel/motel TV, in retail shops, through the mail, and by common carrier. Pornography, like the vile s & m films produced at Kink promote violence against women and contributes to sex trafficking and prostitution, to name only a few of the tragic consequences of pornography.

Yet, not content with the tour of the Kink Film studio, Groupon recently offered another sexscapade discount for a Rock ‘n’ Roll Fantasy Camp with Steven Tyler of Aerosmith at the Playboy Mansion. The Groupon coupon app sent out an alert promoting 47% discount off a party and concert at the Playboy Mansion. Even children received the Playboy Bunny party Groupon alert. The package cost $800 and included a concert as well as time hanging out with the Playboy bunnies. Check it out here:

As VIPs disembark from their shuttle, they’ll be beckoned by tour guides through the glamorous, stone-clad grounds to take a swim in the legendary grotto, check out exotic animals in the zoo, and try to figure out which of the six Playboy Bunnies in attendance has real fluffy ears. Guests can expect to mingle with TV personalities, pro athletes, and other celebs into the wee hours or until their entourages turn back into enchanted mice. Rock star glam, dress to impress.

Morality in Media (MIM) continues to urge Groupon to end its support of the sexual exploitation of women and girls, but despite MIM’s national boycott of the company, resulting in more than 15,000 (and growing) of Groupon’s customers discontinuing the service, the company has not done so.

The sleazy brotherhood of Groupon’s senior management team continues to sink to new lows, not only in brand, but in its stock price. Could it be that Groupon’s falling stock price, a possible SEC investigation, and a shareholder lawsuit, are causing panic in the Groupon locker room? After all, desperate times call for desperate measures. Tragically, sex and gore still sells.

Protecting the integrity of product image is the first goal of a sound business plan. However, Groupon’s carelessly squanders the company’s ‘ripening’ image with a frat house mentality. Where are the grown ups at Groupon? Is any adult vetting these discount offers? Groupon needs less testosterone and a team with judgment, class, and business sense.

What will Groupon think of next? A tour of the serial killer, Jeffrey Dahmer’s hunting grounds in Milwaukee?

Oops, too late, Groupon already descended to glorifying the serial killer by offering its Groupon Coupon Du Jour: 90 minute 1 mile walking Tour for Two for $25. The level of tackiness and insensitivity to crime victims is shockingly adolescent and callous beyond belief.

On February 7, 2011, Andrew Mason, Groupon’s 30-something whiz kid founder, expounded on his personal blog about the crass and sex-drenched Super Bowl ads on his personal blog:

When we think about commercials that offend us, we think of those that glorify antisocial behavior – like the scores of Super Bowl ads that are built around the crass objectification of women.

Well, Andrew, your latest Groupon coupons offend us, mothers, fathers, parents, and child advocates. Dare I say, they ‘glorify antisocial behavior’ and smack of ‘crass objectification of women.’ Yeah, that just about sums it up.

You couldn’t have said it better, Andrew.

Send Andrew Mason a message: The “Boycott Groupon Project” page can be found at http://bit.ly/HSEzLt.

Boycott supporters may also email all top Groupon executives, and help put an end to deals that glamorize the exploitation and abuse of women and girls.

© Elizabeth Yore-2012 All Rights Reserved.

Elizabeth Yore served as Special Counsel at Harpo, Inc. Previously, she was General Counsel at the Illinois Department of Children and Family Servicesand the General Counsel and Director of the International Division at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

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