Groupon Cooks Up Some Entertainment Partnerships

The ever-expanding social ecommerce site partnered with Bravo’s Top Chef and helped distribute a documentary film executive produced by Pixar’s CTO. What’s next? $10 movie tickets?!

Groupon Cooks Up Some Entertainment Partnerships


Groupon is hitting Hollywood. From its first partnership
with a television network to helping a documentary film get local distribution,
the little startup that could takes national entertainment to the local level.

On Wednesday, Groupon rolled out a set of deals with Bravo’s
Top Chef, its first partnership with a television network. The site released
restaurant deals at eight locations run by Top Chef contestants in Washington DC, Miami, Los
Angeles, Atlanta, and San Francisco. The Groupons will be available through
August 9, and a cooking class with DC’s Carla Hall from Season 5 has already
sold out.

“[Bravo’s] working with the best and brightest chefs, and
those are the restaurants that we want our millions of subscribers to be
exposed to,” Groupon President Rob Solomon tells Fast Company. He notes
that Groupon can easily change a restaurant’s business dynamic in one day,
selling as many as 10,000 deals in a day.


All but one of the deals is location-specific. (You can have
a cookie basket mailed to your home anywhere in the U.S.) So far, almost 10,000
Top Chef Groupons have been purchased. “This will help Bravo reach an even bigger
audience and give them all a chance to taste Bravo — in their own lives and
right in their own hometowns,” Bravo’s Senior Vice President of Digital Media
Lisa Hsia said in a release.

In other Groupon entertainment news, the site partnered with
the independent documentary Ready, Set, Bag!, executive produced by Oren Jacob
who is also Pixar’s CTO. The film
will be released in Seattle on Friday, and Groupon set up a deal in July for
Seattle locals to buy two movie tickets, a large popcorn and a large reusable
shopping bag for $16. (The documentary is about competitive grocery bagging,
hence the reusable grocery bag.)

“Documentary is a really difficult thing to get a screening
for,” Solomon explains. “It’s nearly impossible. We worked with the film
producers and the location. The location would definitely run a documentary if
you could guarantee a certain level of customers and the documentary guys on
their own just couldn’t do it. It’s a huge win for this documentary that’s
trying to get distribution.”

There was a limited quantity of Groupons available and the
deal expired on July 25, Customers who bought the deal could only choose from
eight showtimes between August 6 and August 11, and if none of those dates
worked, they could also use the Groupon voucher, valued at $10.50, to buy a
poster for the film or put it toward the cost of the DVD. While there are no plans to initiate similar deals for the film in other cities, Solomon says it’s a possibility if there’s consumer interest.

This marketing stategy could be game-changing for releasing small, independent films. It’s also possible to work with a film’s wider release on a local level. Groupon frequently partners with national franchises in local cities. They rolled out a deal for Jamba Juice in Chicago, and they also offered a ZipCar deal in multiple cities. Solomon says this model could also work well with theaters and films.


Groupon received $135 million in funding from DST and
Battery Ventures in April, which is intended for global expansion and provide
liquidity for employees and investors. The service exists in 83 cities, with plans to be in 200 urban and suburban hubs by the
end of the year.  

“We’re one of the fastest growing Internet sites in the
history of the Internet, from a revenue perspective,” Solomon said. “We’re
having conversations with everyone that you could think of. I imagine that
you’ll see a lot of interesting entertainment and media focused partnerships
coming out of us over the next year.”