December 12, 2009
Ashley Madison won’t be advertising adultery on TTC streetcars, but it doesn’t have to.
No ads were purchased, yet traffic to the company’s website is up. Media experts are calling it a coup for guerrilla marketing.
“We tend to put ourselves in the situation where we win in both situations,” Ashley Madison chief executive Noel Biderman said. “That’s what good marketers do, and we believe we’re as good as it gets.”
AshleyMadison.com helps people cheat on their partners. On Thursday, the company alleged the TTC was backpedalling on an already approved deal to wrap six streetcars with the slogan “Life is short. Have an affair.”
“We’re not backing out of a deal. We have the right to accept or reject ads that we feel are appropriate or not appropriate for the TTC,” said Councillor Joe Mihevc, vice-chair of the transit commission.
The TTC urged its review committee to reject the ads, and they did so Friday, with five councillors voting against it. Councillor Anthony Perruzza abstained.
“Just as we would not promote `Life is short, steal from your boss,’ so to hear `Life is short, cheat on your spouse’ or whatever, is not appropriate on a public transit vehicle,” Mihevc said.
But Tim Richardson, professor of marketing at the University of Toronto’s Scarborough campus, said the TTC’s blessing – or lack of it – is irrelevant.
“They got AshleyMadison.com on the front page of the Sun,” he said.
Ashley Madison garnered around a dozenmainstream media mentions on TV, radio and print Friday.
Sidney Eve Matrix, who teaches media at Queen’s University, said the streetcar imbroglio was “social advertising at its best” because it connects people to an emotionally charged issue.
“It’s ready for the water cooler, Facebook. It’s purpose-built to go viral,” Matrix said.