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Controversial affair site goes on PR hunt

Despite local authorities’ disapproval of AshleyMadison.com, it looks like it is going ahead with plans to market here anyway.

In an invitation sent to public relations agencies, which was seen by Marketing, the site is asking for a “strong local PR agency”. The agency will be tasked to work with its Toronto headquarters to “keep AshleyMadison.com in the media”.

The pitch was called by Avid Life Media, Ashley Madison’s parent company. It could not be reached for comment in time for this article.

Earlier, news of its arrival in Singapore caused a local outcry, with Minister for Social and Family Development Chan Chun Sing speaking up in a Facebook post that he was against the company operating here.

In his Facebook post, Chan said: “I’m against any company or website that harms marriage. Promoting infidelity undermines trust and commitment between a husband and wife, which are core to marriage.”

The Facebook group opposing Ashley Madison’s launch called “Block Ashley Madison Singapore” has already reached 26,160 likes.

In the invite to PR agencies, the website stated one of its aims: “In the US and Canada (CEO) Noel Biderman is a known and recognized expert on infidelity: we want to achieve the same for Singapore.”

“For this we would have weekly calls in which we discuss the next pitch/release idea, review interesting data on infidelity and plan sponsorship offers or provocative billboard campaigns,” said the invite.

Ashley Madison also wants to be pitched into media discussions, particularly in “scandals”, said the invite.

According to Yahoo News, the site has been actively marketing itself in other markets, though its campaigns have run into many roadblocks.

In 2009, it tried to buy CAD$200,000 worth of advertising on Toronto Transit Commission streetcars, and the idea was shot down.

It also made an US$25 million offer to buy the naming rights of New Meadowlands stadium in New Jersey, US and name the stadium AshleyMadison.com stadium. The naming rights eventually went to an insurance company.

The site is a social network for married men and women looking to have a discreet affair. It was launched in North America in 2002 and claims over 21 million members worldwide.

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