Groupon launches bizarre new feature: Clicky

@CNNMoneyTech January 10, 2012: 1:39 PM ET
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NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Going public hasn't stopped Groupon (GRPN) from instituting its out of the box marketing campaigns. Check out Groupon's newest feature and you'll find yourself staring into the big brown eyes of Clicky, the Clickable Value-Wheel.

Groupon's newest marketing ploy prompts users to sign in through their Facebook accounts and spin a wheel featuring discounts up to $100 on various Groupons.

But the wheel, designed with large eyes and pursed lips, looks more like a creature than a feature. "The eyes and the mouth within the graphic for the wheel are kind of creepy," one user tweeted.

"Reminds me of Jar-Jar Binks. Not clicking," another user tweeted, referring to the maligned character from the most recent "Star Wars" movies.

Groupon's Head of Imagination (yes, that's his actual title) Mike Bennett, says the human twist on the traditional wheel is what will make Clicky a unique marketing ploy.

"Humans have evolved to be engaged by human faces. That's why wall sockets look the way they do, and why cars like the Dodge Neon are so successful. We just want to connect to another person," Bennett said.

Groupon's tongue-in-cheek humor is also apparent in the behind the scenes video of how Clicky was created. The video features Bennett joking (we think) about a five week "imagination vacation" in Tahoe where he and a colleague hunted for ideas.

Clicky will roll out gradually to 170 markets throughout North American, the company said.

In the press release, Groupon says Clicky will be "one of several potential marketing instruments," the company plans to test out over time. "Continuously experimenting with new marketing mechanisms is an important part of the growth of any company," the release said.

Experimentation doused with humor has always been a part of the business that exploded over the last years, and Groupon's CEO Andrew Mason has said he'll maintain the company's wacky sense of humor as Groupon continues to evolve.

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In its IPO filing, Mason opens with a letter addressed to "potential stockholders" sharing his business philosophy: "Life is too short to be a boring company."

Before going public, the Groupon often offered up colorful press releases, joking about raising like, a billion dollars and once responded to a lawsuit threat with a blog post about high-school gossip and cabbage-patch dolls.

The company's humorous marketing campaigns that have come to define the fast growing business have also led to controversy. Groupon's Super Bowl ads, which featured celebrities poking fun at causes, were not widely well received, forcing Mason to issue an explanation.

Wall Street may not be so amused though. Shares of Groupon did rise 4% Tuesday but the stock is still trading below its offering price of $20. To top of page

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