CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 10: The Groupon logo is displayed in the company's international headquarters on June 10, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. Groupon, a local e-commerce marketplace that connects merchants and consumers by offering goods and services at a discount, announced June 2 that it had filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission for a proposed initial public offering of its Class A common stock. The company, launched in Chicago in November 2008 now markets products and services in 43 countries around the world. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
It's the same old song, but with a new variation on the lyrics. Groupon is once again locking horns with the Advertising Standards Authority, the UK's independent regulator of advertising across all media. The ASA took issue before when Groupon sold deals on breast-enlargement surgeries and snake oil -- yes, snake oil -- and the latest flare-up is a deal on "Weight Loss HOTPANTS." The ASA says Groupon's writeup placed in October on this particular product gave the misleading impression that said pants could help customers lose weight. Here's the advertisement Groupon ran:
Using Celu-Lite™ technology, these magnificently comfy HOTPANTS™ are designed to aid clients in their transformation into a smaller Russian doll self, in conjunction with a healthy diet and lifestyle. The nifty shorts have been created to take advantage of the body's natural heat to increase the warmth around the thighs, which then boosts the level of perspiration to help maximise workouts.
And here's what the ASA said Wednesday in its ruling: "Given Groupon’s track record, we have serious concerns about its ability to adhere to the Advertising Code." The ASA said that by using the word "Celu-Lite," Groupon was implying the pants could help people lose cellulite. But come on -- if you're foolish enough to believe a pair of pants can make you lose weight, you sort of deserve to be taken advantage of. It's called Darwinism.
In the end, the ASA ruled the ad was to never appear again.
Elsewhere, Groupon is starting to appear in the physical world -- in Germany. According to Deutsche Welle, whose snappy slogan is "your link to Germany," in early January "Groupon and Deutsche Telekom announced that they would be working together to bring new bargains for mobile phone users [in Germany]." Details are sparse, but a little more on Groupon's megalomaniacal expansion can be read here.
Meanwhile, Groupon's stock is on the rise. As of press time it's at $23.36.
David Wolinsky is a freelance writer and a lifelong Chicagoan. In addition to currently serving as an interviewer-writer for Adult Swim, he's also a columnist for EGM. He was the Chicago city editor for The Onion A.V. Club where he provided in-depth daily coverage of this city's bustling arts/entertainment scene for half a decade. When not playing video games for work he's thinking of dashing out to Chicago Diner, Pizano's, or Yummy Yummy. His first career aspirations were to be a game-show host.