Avid Life Media, parent of disgraced marital affair dating site Ashley Madison, is rebranding as Ruby Corp. A year after hackers blackmailed the service and publicized user names, Ashley Madison will drop its old tagline “Life is Short. Have an Affair” and will launch a vigorous rebranding campaign.
In a press release, new Ruby Corp. CEO Rob Segal says that the rebrand “is an important step in our journey to completely rebuild the company as a relevant, digital dating innovator that truly cares for our customers.” The CEO added that the dropped tagline “was a limiting label that’s out-dated and doesn’t speak to the wide variety of connections people find on Ashley Madison.” The new Ashley Madison tagline accompanying a new advertising campaign launch? “Find Your Moment.”
One message in the new ad campaign focuses on the female user base that Ashley Madison famously faked with bots. Another focuses on Ashley Madison facilitating threesomes.
The new ads are a bit hipster, a bit TV show Thirty Something, like what a marital affair advertised by Pottery Barn might look like. The actors are not overly attractive but with distinguished faces and work with a soundtrack as if in a movie by Noah Baumbach. If This American Life did infidelity, it would be Ashley Madison’s new campaign.
The brand’s new CEO has set a new vision for the service: The World’s Most Open-Minded Dating Community. In the release, the CEO said, “We believe Ashley Madison can transform to better reflect modern relationships and operate with open-minded integrity and an adventurous spirit.” That release added that Ashley Madison has invested heavily in security technology and that the bots “are no longer being used.”
Avid Life Media rebranding as Ruby Corp. but keeping the Ashley Madison name, seems as nonsensical as having an affair on Ashley Madison and then telling your wife about it. Indeed, it was the Ashley Madison name that customers associated with the leak and the scams. Maybe the only time many shafted Ashley Madison users had ever seen the “Avid Life Media” name was on their billing statements. So why rebrand if not to change the damaged Ashley Madison brand?
Maybe because the parent company recently admitted that it is being investigated by the Federal Trade Commission. A change to Ruby Corp. is a hedge against headlines in the future that talk about “Avid Life Media” in relation to the investigation. The FTC investigation is said to be about the brand’s use of bots.
One reason Ashley Madison is not changing its name is that a name change would be the only headline, making it look like the brand was running from its problems or trying to sweep them under the rug. By turning back into the controversy and taking it head on, the brand generates piles of press attention stressing how the brand has changed, the exact message it needs to get through to potential but leery customers.
— Fast Company (@FastCompany) July 6, 2016
This strategy is no more obvious than on Ashley Madison’s Twitter page, where the brand is retweeting every possible media mention of its new campaign that stresses terms like “rebuild,” “reboots,” and “new CEO.”
— Ashley Madison (@ashleymadison) July 5, 2016
The parent company behind Ashley Madison named a new CEO as it tries to recover from a devastating data breach. https://t.co/BqJopbythW
— WSJD (@WSJD) July 5, 2016
— The Globe and Mail (@globeandmail) July 5, 2016
— TorontoStar (@TorontoStar) July 5, 2016
Time will tell if Ashley Madison directly addressing its shortcomings and damaged brand will be successful. But coming clean is probably its best hope to get back to business as the brand about keeping others from the same fate.