LivingSocial's New Deal: $50 Worth of Japan Disaster Relief for $50

The Groupon competitor joins Apple, Zynga, and Lady Gaga, among others, in seeking cash for relief efforts.

LivingSocial Japanese earthquake relief effort

Not long ago, Groupon came under fire for Super Bowl ads that appeared to make light of serious situations abroad. And even if Groupon had offered support for the very causes it appeared to poke fun at, the damage was done.

Now LivingSocial, Groupon's chief rival, appears to have learned from its competitor's mistakes. It's teamed up with GlobalGiving to help funnel money to disaster relief in Japan--but it's done so subtly, without fanfare, and most crucially, without feeling some sort of compulsion to be funny about it.

The image up top shows a glimpse of how it looks in today's New York City LivingSocial email offer. A simple banner--and while it seems strange to read about tsunami relief, followed shortly thereafter by the words, "More Deals Near You," it's a nice gesture. And maybe it makes sense to go after people's charity money just as they're about to try to save a few bucks on Pilates classes, since there's nothing like being confronted with one's own frivolousness to provoke a bit of charitable giving.

GlobalGiving.org, like LivingSocial, is a DC-based organization.

LivingSocial isn't the only major brand to get on board helping the tsunami victims, of course. iTunes has enabled Red Cross donations directly through the iTunes Store. (iTunes, for once, foregoes its 30% cut--all of the money goes straight to the Red Cross.) Zynga, the makers of FarmVille, have enabled in-game purchases that will result in real-life tsunami relief, with CEO Mark Pincus saying he hopes to raise $2 million that way. And even Lady Gaga's helping out; she tweeted on Friday that she had designed a prayer bracelet, whose sale's proceeds would go straight to the victims of the tsunami.

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