Groupon, and Why Clients Don’t Get Their Trust On

So, did Groupon place too much trust in Crispin, like its’ CEO claimed? And did they turn off the part of the brain where the decision-making should’ve been?

Yeah, I don’t buy it. But what does it say about the state of trust between agencies and clients?

Most of us truly believe in the work we present to our clients. We’re often driven by the belief that our solution is the correct one; it’ll work and make everyone rich and famous. Well, that’s the dream, at least. We don’t know for sure.

And while it’s true that some of advertising’s most convincing folks are the types who can sell the proverbial ice to Eskimos, there simply isn’t a Jedi Mind Trick-like device that’ll make a client turn off their decision-making abilities. Whoever writes the checks always has the ultimate veto power.

It’s the subject of my new column on, which will be on the home page tomorrow.

About Dan Goldgeier

Blogging on AdPulp since 2005, Dan Goldgeier is a Seattle-based freelance copywriter with experience at advertising agencies across the U.S. He is a graduate of the Creative Circus ad school, and currently teaches at Seattle's School of Visual Concepts. In addition, he is a regular columnist for Dan published the best of his columns in a book entitled View From The Cheap Seats: A Broader Look at Advertising, Marketing, Branding, Global Politics, Office Politics, Sexual Politics, and Getting Drunk During a Job Interview. Look for it on Amazon in paperback and e-book editions.


  1. “Did they turn off the part of the brain where the decision-making should’ve been?”

    Why don’t you buy it Dan? People place undue trust in “celebrity experts” all the time. Self-help guru James Arthur Ray killed three people in a makeshift sweat lodge.

    With great power, comes great responsibility. It’s time for agencies to rethink their fundamental assumptions about the marketplace, their clients, and their roles in the on-going, mutually beneficial connection.

    • Dan Goldgeier says:

      Tom, I don’t buy it because Groupon initially stood by the spots. And they talked about the money that was raised in the aftermath. You’re right that persuasive minds make people do things they may not ordinarily do, but if these ads were universally praised instead of widely criticized, Groupon’s CEO would call his decision-making firmly grounded.

      • Anonymous says:


        I think Groupon initially stood by the spots because they didn’t realize the real extent of the damage and dislike. The CEO probably thought he was being noble by proclaiming the decision/responsibility to approve the spots belonged to him. Plus, CP+B might even have “warned” them that “edgy” shit like the Tibet spot can polarize an audience. AdFreak just noted that Groupon sales plummeted as much as 30% in the month of February, right around when the spots broke. That might also explain why the CEO is now whining about things.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I buy it. But it really showed that Groupon is ghetto. That is, they’re not ready for the big leagues. As a Chicagoan who has seen how Groupon operates, it’s clear that – despite the alleged financial success – it’s still a couple of dudes operating out of a garage, in terms of the mentality and sophistication of it all. It’s not even clear why these guys thought they needed to be advertising on the Super Bowl – or anywhere else, for that matter. After all, where’s the ad campaign for Twitter or Facebook?