TVNewser AgencySpy TVSpy LostRemote FishbowlNY FishbowlDC SocialTimes AllFacebook 10,000 Words GalleyCat UnBeige MediaJobsDaily

‘Extra-Marital Dating Site’ Ashley Madison Loves Bad Publicity

When your business is a dating site with the tagline “Life is short. Have an affair“, you’re probably not too concerned with bad PR. In fact, you might just be the rare brand that thrives on the public’s hate–a brand like Ashley Madison, the world’s “premiere website for discreet connections” between people who are already married. Hmm…

We thought we’d take a brief moment to highlight a PR stunt completely in keeping with Ashley Madison’s brand ethos. In order to promote its services, the company took out a full-page ad in the Super Bowl insert section of today’s San Francisco Examiner. Here’s the visual:

Ashley Madison

Predictable “outrage” ensued–and Ashley Madison’s PR firm Bridge and Tunnel Communications capitalized on said outrage to promote its client via naive media outlets like yours truly. They even called the ad “X-rated” in press releases.

We certainly wouldn’t label this a classy move, but it is a solid PR strategy. Why?

Well, here’s a fascinating Inc. magazine interview with company founder/CEO Noel Biderman, who talks about creating “a credible, confidential avenue for people who want to have an affair” and insists that he aimed to help his venture stand out by making it a “female-centered brand” that specialized in empowering career women to “[behave] like men”…by turning their clueless spouses into classic cuckolds. We don’t really see how that concept squares with the ad above, but we do understand his strategy.

Here’s one of the company’s “banned” Super Bowl ads featuring a woman who obviously wants to go outside her marriage, complete with the tagline “When divorce isn’t an option.”

Question for PR pros: How would you handle a controversial client like Ashley Madison?

Mediabistro Course

Presentation Writing: Design and Delivery

Presentation Writing: Design and DeliveryLearn how to use storytelling techniques and visual content to create and deliver successful pitches and presentations! Starting August 6, Amanda Pacitti, the manager of learning at Time Inc., will teach you the best practices for presentations, from using software like Prezi and Powerpoint, to writing your script, and using images, audio, and video to drive your points. Register now!