What’s worse? Being wrong on purpose or being wrong accidentally?

For a Presidents’ Day promotion, Groupon announced a promotion for $10 off a $40 purchase. Nothing unusual about that, except they said it was in honor of Alexander Hamilton, “undeniably one of our greatest presidents.”

Needless to say, people were quick to deny this claim by pointing out that Mr. Hamilton was never president. Groupon’s response basically boiled down to, “We were just seeing if you were paying attention.”

I suppose this might be the truth, but it seems like it could just as easily be a hasty excuse. If this was always intended to be sarcastic, shouldn’t the rest of the press release been sarcastic, playing up the gag of getting Hamilton’s role in history wrong? The press release did contain other, accurate facts about Mr. Hamilton, so you have to figure the copywriter at least glanced at his Wikipedia page.

Regardless of whether or not Groupon is telling the truth, they certainly got a lot more people linking to the press release — an often ignored way of making an announcement nowadays — because of the inaccuracy than they would have if they played it straight. Granted most of those stories were negative. But I guess no publicity is bad publicity, so… success?