AshleyMadison.com pitches creative to a tee

With apologies to golf metaphors, adulterous dating site has successfully launched a full-on marketing PR campaign based on merely the notion they might engage in, well, marketing.

The background:

  • AshleyMadison.com attempts to purchase TTC advertising space and the Rocket (allegedly) refuses
  • Mock-ups of the ads are released and chaos ensues

That’s really it.

From a stactical prospective, this controversial service embraced controversy through (allegedly) sincere attempts to market using uncontroversial advertising media. The content of the ads are published for free using earned media with an explanation of what the service does. Gaining earned media from creative work is at its base, a coup for marketing PRtists, as it expands the reach of the ad campaign without adding to the ad buy costs (see: the strategy behind Super Bowl ads)

So, strategy goes, if the ROI on a creative campaign is increased by piggybacking earned media, imagine the increase to ROI when the creative doesn’t even need to be produced, let alone bought media for.

This strategy is risky, yes, but it vibes in stride with the risqué identity of the brand.  Let’s send 60 swinging stractical points to AshleyMadison.com.

Ashley Madison proposed TTC ads courtesy of Torontoist.com

Ashley Madison proposed TTC ads courtesy of Torontoist.com

Tiger Woods redux

Confession: I’ve been actively avoiding all this Tiger Woods talk or trying to at least. As a professional communicator and PR critic, it’s almost irresponsible for me to dodge this one. It’s not stractical. But there’s just something about intently following someone’s marital/extra-marital life, even if its one of the most celebrated superstars on the planet, that gives me the willies. The badvibes. The shivers down my spine. And while we don’t pass judgment on anything but the communications out here in Stractiville, I thought I should provide some context that leads into this:

I didn’t watch the 24 hour CNN coverage of a camera aimed at Tiger’s front door. I didn’t listen to the tawdry voicemail messages. I don’t know the names and back stories of his alleged mistresses. But I know a story broke. And I know I didn’t think much of it. But then this radio silence kept amplifying this minor traffic accident until there was no other possible explanation for the events besides a domestic disturbance. In a way, Tiger baited the media and set his own trap, not for employing a terrible crisis strategy, but by attempting multiple half-assed strategies: Keep silent, but make a statement. Express sullen remorse but lash out at the unscrupulous media attention. Speak of vague “transgressions” as a parade of mistress names roll across the news ticker. And I know there are more but these are just the few bleeding through the margins to someone actively avoiding this one. The PR strangeness is just too strong, it won’t let me escape.

I’ve read constructive PR and social media critiques here and here. The comparisons to the David Letterman strategy are particularly apt though Dave had two things going for him that Tiger lack: a sense of humour for the softening touch of self-deprecation and an hour a night on network television to fill.

I’m struggling to offer Tiger advice so I’ll be portentously reductionist:

Be stractical. That means giving the GOST treatment both short and long term. Ask the questions: What is my essential to my personal brand? Or more generally, what do I need? To continue to play professional golf at a high level? To sign and carry out endorsement deals? To keep my family together? Adoration from millions? — A multi-national corporation would rally around its raison d’etre in a crisis and so should you.

While this epic is far from over, we’ll prematurely award -65 stractical points to Team Tiger Woods and note the irony that the low score in golf wins.

And now, if you’ll excuse me.  I’ll get back to changing the channel.

Tiger in the rough

Tiger Woods?

That’s really all I can say.