Launched in late 2012, dating app Tinder has enjoyed what can only be described as a meteoric rise. Boasting almost fifty million users as early as 2014 (according to the New York Times), Tinder has become a global phenomenon. Other dating apps aren’t far behind — from JSwipe to Coffee Meets Bagel, companies are eager to capitalize on the growth potential within the online dating industry.
The appeal of dating apps, it seems, is only increasing. Why this sudden popularity? In part, it can be attributed to the fact that the stigma once associated with online dating has all but vanished in the last ten years, according to Pew Research Center. Nowadays, nearly 30% of 18-24 year olds admit to having used a dating site (although a third of those interviewed had never actually met up with a date).
Marketing on Tinder
Considering the app’s popularity, it’s no surprise that companies have begun to develop marketing strategies to reach its user base. Apps like Tinder are especially appealing to marketers, since the app’s infrastructure allows them to target a specific age demographic.
When Bud Light decided to take out an ad on Tinder, for instance, the ad appeared only to users who had self-identified as 21-27 — an age range that represents, as brand director Hugh Cullman points out, their marketing sweet spot. For this particular ad campaign, in which users could swipe right for a chance to win admission to a huge party, Bud Light knew it wasn’t wasting its money — after all, they had an absolute guarantee that their target audience (young adults interested in socializing) was the audience they were reaching.
The Ex Machina Campaign
Not every advertisement on Tinder has been as straightforward as Bud Light’s. In a controversial ad campaign that took place at the 2015 SXSW music festival, the marketing team for the film Ex Machina created a Tinder profile for character Ava. Ava, an AI in the film, would match with (predominantly male) concertgoers; she’d then chat with them for a brief period of time before linking them to her Instagram account, which promoted the film, and revealing to them that she was in fact a robot.
This PR stunt had its pros and cons. As far as pros go, the film’s premiere (which happened to be occurring at SXSW) certainly got a lot of attention, not only from Tinder users, but from the online communities they belonged to. The cons? Many Tinder users felt duped, according to this Sprinklr article. The robot behind Ava was so real that many users genuinely believed they were talking to a real woman; when she linked to her Instagram and was revealed to be nothing but a robot, those users were certainly less than pleased.
Other Recent Campaigns
Although the Ex Machina campaign enjoyed mixed success, that hasn’t stopped other advertisers from creating fake profiles to promote their products. In one notable campaign, for example, Domino’s Pizza created a fake profile on Valentine’s Day, inviting lonely singles to swipe right and chat for a chance to win free pizza. After all, as this Campaign article notes, a fresh baked pie might have been precisely the hot date users were looking for.
Numerous TV shows and films have also followed in Ex Machina’s footsteps. The Mindy Project, for instance, created humorous profiles for its two main characters. Most recently, the film Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates was promoted via a fake profile for actor Zac Efron (who plays “Dave” in the film). When users swipe right, Dave messages them the opening date of the film, and tells them to “make it a date.”
Whether it’s a native advertising profile indistinguishable from a real Tinder user, or a more overt ad promising free pizza, marketers are certainly getting creative when it comes to dating apps. While well-integrated ads like Ex Machina’s can be extremely effective, there might be such a thing as going too far on such an intimate platform — the intention, after all, is to promote a product, not to break hearts.
(Image Credit: Caleb Morris/Snapwire)
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