Tune in to this episode of Will It Stick, the podcast with Alexis and Melissa where they discuss how brands utilize creative marketing and advertising campaigns or PR stunts to drive attention, awareness and DOLLARS. We dive into the details to find out the big questions —will it stick? Back before swiping left or right was even a thing, there was one service that started it all: Match.com.

Today, people talk extremely openly and casually about dating apps, a huge stretch compared to the launch of Match.com in 1995. Internet data was perceived as weird, and it was up to the company to reinvent the stigma. Since there were no smartphones then, users had to snail mail or fax photos of themselves to update their profiles.

Early Match.com Advertisement – Source: FastCompany.com

Gary Kremen founded Match.com originally geared towards older professionals looking for meaningful relationships. Right out of the gate, they knew they needed to gain the approval of women. They hired two female marketing directors who helped guide the site with a female-centric approach. The anonymity the site allowed for is what enticed lots of people. Before launching any big ad campaigns, the marketing team first turned to PR. They offered free accounts for journalists, many of whom ended up meeting somebody and falling in love. They also ran their own newsletter which shared online dating insights and dove into taboo topics. This helped build brand loyalty and become part of the users’ homes and lives.

You’ve Got Mail and Sex in the City were both instrumental pop culture happenings that helped revamp the perception around online dating. In 2000, Match.com partnered with Princess Cruises for a multi-day Valentine’s Day celebration featuring romance icons. In promotion for the newest cruise ship, 50 couples who had met on the website were introduced for the first time in person. The stunt received wide coverage and was a total success.

Bark In The Park Stunt from Match.com – Source: The Drum

Jumping forward, in 2014  to promote its new socials, Match.com unveiled their new “Bark in the Park” events, aimed towards single people with dogs. The advertisements were placed around London at both human eye level and dog eye level, which were beef scented to lure their attention. Inevitably, not all of their ad campaigns were a success. In 2016, one campaign, in particular, offended many by insinuating red hair and freckles were imperfections.

Controversial Ad Campaign from Match.com – Source: Buzzfeed

They also installed breathalyzer condom machines in various London pubs, promoting sober sex.

Breathalyzer Condom Vending Machine Stunt – Source: The Mirror

But after all these years, the company hasn’t lost its relevance. They had one of the most popular commercials in 2020 featuring Ryan Reynolds.

Satan & 2020 – A Match Made in Hell Campaign for Match.com – Source: Relevant Magazine

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Resources:

Check out the articles we mentioned by Fast Company, Famous Campaigns, Wikipedia, and Fox Business.  

We also read AdWeek about Maximum Effort’s ad campaign for Match.com.

This article from the FTC detailed the legal issues brought to Match.com a few years ago.

We also really liked this article from DatingNews.com about Match.com’s history and impact.

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