Ashley Madison’s Ad Campaign Was Better When It Wasn’t Faux-Sensitive

Things haven’t been looking good for Ashley Madison, the dating website whose tagline was, “Life is short, have an affair.”

First, that massive hack. Then, the revelation that it created thousands of bots to lure men. Now, an investigation with the US Federal Trade Commission over those bots. Perfect time to rebrand from a cheeky website that owned its encouragement of cheating to a one that looks like it’s just trying to soothe the sensitive hearts of the lonely — and single.

The site dropped its famous tagline and has a new set of ads encouraging single-looking people to “find their moment”. The man in the “subway” ad has no partner in sight and no ring. The “poly” ad is about a couple deciding to bring in a new woman, which is not cheating and, which anyone who has ever been on OkCupid knows, is a common proposition on almost all dating sites. Only the “hotel” ad suggests temptation of infidelity — but then the guy walks away! It could all have have been a fantasy!

There is a tasteful, muted palette and folk music and it’s all very sensitive, but unless Ashley Madison is a regular dating site now (which… good luck), it feels desperate.

Ashley Madison was better when its ads featured a man singing “I’m looking for someone other than my wife” or someone lamenting that “most of us can recover from a one-night stand with the wrong woman — but not when it’s every night of our lives“. At least that was honest. If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck and is on Ashley Madison like a duck, it probably is a duck, even if it’s a duck trying to find its moment.