Chicago-based Groupon stated on its company blog on Friday that it would no longer sponsor advertising on the TV show “The Apprentice” because it wants to avoid “intentionally upsetting some of its customers.” However, Groupon is offering a deal for a stay at The Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City, N.J. A spokesperson for Groupon stated that this is “a separate concept” and was planned far in advance. Still, the company conceded the timing as “bizarre.”
Dropping the Trump ad sponsorship is in response to a progressive policy group’s petition to boycott Groupon for advertising sponsorship consideration of “The Apprentice.”
“Groupon has never been a sponsor of ‘The Apprentice’ on TV or on the web,” Groupon’s blog post states. “We invest heavily in online advertising through networks that place ads on a rolling basis, meaning that we know one will appear on NBC.com but not specifically which page. We know that some advertising appeared on ‘The Apprentice’ home page a few weeks ago.
“Enough consumers have contacted us to warrant ensuring that we don’t place ads on ‘The Apprentice’ home page in the future,” the blog says. “It’s the same reason we don’t run deals on guns or abortion … this isn’t a political statement. It’s avoiding intentionally upsetting a segment of our customers.”
Sensitive to criticism for an ad it ran post-Super Bowl that many viewers felt made light of Chinese occupation of Tibet, Groupon also is positioning itself for an IPO valued at $1 billion dollars for the second half of 2011. Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan Chase and Morgan Stanley are said to be handling the sale. Valuing itself at $15 billion, Groupon turned down a $6 billion buy-out from Google in December.
As for Trump, he has become a lightning rod for his presumptive Republican presidential candidacy and his harping on President Obama to prove that he was born in the United States, part of the “birther” movement that has accused Obama of being foreign-born and thus ineligible to be president. Obama released the long form of his Hawaii birth certificate on Wednesday, April 27, 2011.