The history books will say that the Pittsburgh Steelers lost 2011’s Super Bowl XLV – but on the night the biggest losers were the pop star Christina Aguilera and the cut-price internet site Groupon.
As with Janet Jackson’s famous halftime show “wardrobe malfunction,” both Aguilera and Groupon blew a big chance in front of a US viewing audience of 100 million. But while Aguilera’s mangling of the US national anthem was presumably unintentional, Groupon’s attempt to use the plight of the people of Tibet as a marketing tool was all too deliberate.
Aguilera had the plum spot of singing the Star Spangled Banner before the kick-off of the Super Bowl and quickly drew ire for the cardinal sin (to many Americans) of getting the words wrong.
Rather than singing “O’er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming,” Aguilera instead mashed it up with an earlier line so that it came out as: “What so proudly we watched at the twilight’s last reaming.”
Messing with the national anthem is no laughing matter – just ask Rosanne Barr, who caused national uproar with a ghastly version she performed before a baseball game in 1990 and has never been able to live it down.
For Groupon, though, the plight of Tibet is a laughing matter – with the internet sensation bizarrely using that country’s unfortunate history to market the company to a mass audience.
It was Groupon’s first appearance in the high-profile stakes of Super Bowl advertising, and it appears the company’s desire to create a fashionable buzz overrode its sense of decency.