Copy We Like: Groupon's Gift of Gab


My sister's boyfriend has averred repeatedly that Groupon is an unsustainable business model — according to USA Today (April 2), "Groupon raised $805 million last November in its IPO" but "has yet to post a profit" — and that I should make hay while the sun shines. And I do. For the bargains, for uncovering items (glass water bottles), places (the Wildlife Learning Center) and excursions (water-powered jetpacking) that would never have occurred to me otherwise, and for the copy.

I recently came across a deal for a shampoo and conditioner gift set characterized by this copy: "Andre Walker's keratin shampoo and conditioner nourishes hair with all-natural ingredients, including aloe vera and green tea extract. The products earned a spot on Oprah's ultimate favorite things of 2010 and were crafted by the stylist who managed Ms. Winfrey's iconic mane for 25 years."

I smiled inwardly at "iconic mane," but farther down the page it said: "Ideal for all hair types including fine, wavy and clown." Clown! I nearly LOL'ed.

Also note this intro to a spider-vein-removal treatment: "Spider veins, much like spider monkeys, may attract attention when paraded about in a pair of shorts. Stave off stares with this Groupon to New Look Skin Center."

But that's not all! The body copy sings: "New Look Skin Center's registered nurses bring their aesthetic A-game while fine-tuning human hides with a menu of cosmetic services. The spider-vein-removal treatment frees legs from the grasp of vascular anomalies with noninvasive blasts of laser light. After a consultation with a nurse that outlines the ideal plan of attack, a skilled technician ousts under-the-skin arachnids."


"Ideal for all hair types including fine, wavy and clown."

Reading something like that reminds me of why I became a copywriter. It's as if the editorial director told the copywriter to have fun with it — and she did.

Groupon is also a clever content marketer. At the end of each offer is the Groupon Guide, which has absolutely nothing to do with the deal it follows. The guides are simply another way to engage the Groupon faithful. And they do. How could said faithful resist an invitation to "comment on our feelings board?" A recent sampling:


  • The Groupon Guide to Winning Racehorse Names (Grandpa's Weeping War Wounds, Lightning Cow, Pony! Poni! Poné!)
  • The Groupon Guide to State Shapes (Maine: The creation of the fantasy novelist Francis Crawford Holmes, this imaginary state is said to be shaped like a stag's antlers and located in the hearts of all curious children.)
  • The Groupon Guide to Timeless Home Furnishings (Davenport: No data available)

It's complete and utter nonsense, but the fact that they go to the trouble makes me love them with a white-hot passion — and talk them up to my friends and "friends."

The branding wizards at Groupon developed an authentically quirky, slightly absurdist voice, then let it do the talking. I could do some more talking about Groupon having the courage of its branding convictions, but I need to check out a deal on Jedi Lightsaber classes before it sells out. MY business, at least, has been sustained.