Archived entries for advertising

Personal learning: why I’ve come to hate Groupon

I used to love Groupon (and LivingSocial, and Dealster, and the spectrum of discount coupons online).* I loved receiving the daily deals, marveling at the array of stuff I could get for a song.  Who wouldn’t, right?

But at some point, it all became too much.  Every day my inbox was choked with these offers. And then, if I had time to look at them, they weren’t appealing. Another 50% at a hair salon, but I like the woman who cuts my hair. It took me decades to find someone who could deal with my thick mop of wavy/straight/curly blonde hair with a cowlick that resembles a soft serve ice cream swirl, and I’m not looking to switch.  Another 50% at a local restaurant, but actually I like cooking at home.  OK, I’ll buy that one but just for another day.

There was a period not too long ago when my finances were — how shall I put this? — erratic, and there was definitely more famine than feasting in my bank accounts.  So I sharply curtailed my spending. And what I learned was that I really didn’t need any of the stuff — the massages, the weekends away, the golf clubs and iPod chargers — that Groupon was pushing. I just moved and threw out a mountain of crud that had accumulated over ten years of owning a single family house.  My husband and I both admitted how liberating it felt to pare down our belongings, and how great it was to give away so, so many things to folks who needed them.  It felt so good that I have to stop myself from giving away things I still have a use for these days.

I have reached the point where I feel that the lure of a good deal is just the bait for promoting a consumerist mindset.  Honestly, do I need that massage, that weekend in Maine, that photo printed canvas, even at a steep discount?  These are very much the activities and objects of someone with expendable income can indulge in.  Why can’t Groupon offer these types of discounts from companies like Star Market or the local utility company?  It’s as if these coupon offers are saying Hey you middle-class workers, how would you like to spend a little more?

No, actually, I would not like to spend a little more on this stuff.  I’d rather save for retirement, or give to charity, or buy some artwork by a local painter. So goodbye, Groupon and your ilk.  That is, after we use that last coupon at Lantana Cafe that’s been rotting in my wallet.


*For the record, I have never loved and the often draconian terms of use buried in the fine print.

Dance for store credit, monkey boy!

And if that headline doesn’t entice you, I give up. : )

I just stumbled across a startup called Splashscore.  The premise is that for every Facebook post you write that your friends like or comment on, the more points you earn towards credit at stores such as Walmart, The Gap, Applebees, etc.  It’s not clear if you accrue points or if your rewards are dependent on an extremely popular and/or controversial posting.

Walk with me now as I spin out the future of engaging with Splashscore.  Research show that folks are already performing a sanitized version of themselves on social media platforms — no mentions of plantar warts, excema, alcoholism, bullying, extortion, you name it — so why not raise the ante a bit and get a little something something in return?  Though anyone familiar with social media also knows that the most popular posts are not always the best posts. The posts that seem to get the most traction and go viral typically activate our cute, melodrama, slapstick, rage and kitten receptors.

How does Splashscore tabulate my winnings?  Clearly they’ll have a connection into my site and my postings, and probably noting along the way my online habits — the companies I like as well as the company I keep, and what they like.

So I post something — is it true? Does it matter? — about a sick kitten who hilariously tumbles down an incline and experiences grass beneath her tiny toes for the first time — and I start raking in the Splashscore points.  To what end, though?  I appreciate the array of sponsors but it’s not clear how often one needs to debase oneself for likes, or the size of the awards. At the end of the day I may lose the trust and respect of my 500 friends all for a free Zagnut.  I can also see a shadow army paid to like or engage on a post. Nowhere in the instructions does it say that it has to be an intelligent post.  Bring on the spammers!!

And there, my friends, you have in a nutshell the passion play of modern capitalism.

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