After a massive security breach last summer that caused a pretty stressful sh*tstorm for a lot of cheating couples, dating site Ashley Madison has undergone an image overhaul. Ashley Madison's new TV ads, set to begin airing later this week, are part of its rebranding process, and, while there's something sort of dark and depressing about the three ad spots, they do hint at a more honest vibe for the dating platform that once branded itself as a site for married folks to seek out discreet affairs.
The ads feel fresh in the sense that they show people who look genuinely lonely, even if they're in relationships. Rather than framing the site as something to help perfectly chipper folks find someone to share their cool lives with (à la Match's TV spots), Ashley Madison doesn't shy away from depicting people as feeling unhappy (which, newsflash: humans feel sometimes). Enter Ashley Madison as the answer for a momentary serotonin boost via flirting, hooking up, or whatever (which, newsflash: is scientifically accurate).
The ads are moodily shot with uplifting, Mumfordy-sounding indie-folk music scoring them, which makes them feel a little classier than the old Ashley Madison aesthetic. And while they don't say it explicitly, the site seems to be catering more towards mutually consenting open relationships than affairs. The most straightforward ad spot by far is frankly titled "Poly advertisement," and it features a bored, disconnected couple, who collectively perks up when they find a spark with a cocktail server who makes eyes at them.
The new tagline is "Find Your Moment" (or rather, the hipper "#findyourmoment"), which is a significant departure from the site's former tagline of "Life is short. Have an affair." And the ads support the idea by focusing on tiny, implicit moments of connection that cheer up these sad sacks. One ad spot actually shows your average lonely single dude who shyly eye-flirts his way to subway romance — no infidelity required.
The ad that stays truest to Ashley Madison's original intent is called "Hotel advertisement," and, as you can imagine, this is the one that feels the most blatantly adulterous. It features a woman in a troubled relationship (they seem to make a point of it by showing the couple in therapy) who gets sent away for a work conference and finds herself getting checked out by a cute guy at the hotel's front desk.
Of course, the ads are not without fault. As The Cut pointed out, everyone in them is very white and very blonde, which, even if Ashley Madison is trying to promote a more open dialogue around polyamory, only contributes to the poly community's race problem, and the media portrayal of ethical non-monogamy only being for white, affluent folks. But hopefully the rebrand will inspire Ashley Madison loyalists.