Mason said the ads were meant to call attention to "the often trivial nature of stuff on Groupon when juxtaposed against bigger world issues," the Chicago Tribune reported Tuesday.
But many saw the ads as trivializing the bigger issues. One commercial that aired during one of the biggest television audience draws of the year began with actor Timothy Hutton explaining in earnest, "The people of Tibet are in trouble. Their very culture is in jeopardy."
Abruptly, Hutton then says with a self-satisfied nod of the head, "But they still whip up an amazing fish curry."
Hutton then explained how membership in discount firm Groupon could lower a consumer's costs for fish curry at local restaurants.
Blogs on Groupon's Web site attacked the ad as "vulgar" and "detestable," the newspaper said.
Scott Briggs, who headed a study group on Super Bowl ads for marketing firm Alterian, said that after the game, "Groupon far and away had the most negative conversations relative to its (total) number of conversations."
Groupon, ironically, was already committed to paying $100,000 to three non-profit groups in matching donations, but the ads aired during the game failed to mention "Save the Money," the fund handling the donations.
Nell Greenberg, a spokeswoman for Rainforest Action Network, said the ads, because of the controversy, had a positive effect.
"More people are talking about deforestation than they were yesterday," she said.
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