Ashley Madison ad degrading to wives, rules Ad Standards Board

A TV ad for online Ashley Madison, an online dating portal targeting people looking for extramarital affairs, has fallen foul of the ad watchdog for degrading wives by suggesting they are inadequate.

The TV ad, which features a guy singing a jingle ‘looking for someone other than my wife’, generated a long list of complaints, with many arguing it was trying to entice married men to use its services and is immoral.

“This ad should not be on television at any time. An advertisement for cheating on one’s spouse being a good thing is immoral and wrong. I believe that advertising the fact that someone can cheat on their husband or wife online does not belong on television, or on any media outlet. My partner and I were shocked when we first saw it, and have seen it rather frequently on for the past few weeks. It’s sad to think that things like this are actually allowed to be shown on TV – no matter what time it’s on,” one complaint read.

Another said: “If men want to visit such websites that’s their choice but to target married men to entice them into adultery is uncalled for. This advertisement has the potential to destroy families and break up marriages it should not be allowed on TV no matter what time of day it is. It gives the idea that your wife is boring and to look elsewhere. This is a very dangerous commercial.”

A third complainant suggest the ad had health and safety issues, saying: “This does become a health and safety issue when you are promoting and condoning a husband or partner having sexual relations with someone other than his wife. I don’t have a problem with the prostitution side of the ad, just the fact that the word ‘wife’ is used and being depicted as sexually useless.”

Ashley Madison defended the spot, arguing the service the company provides is fully legal and compliant with all laws in Australia.

“The referenced AM Advertisement does not discriminate on any basis whatsoever, does not vilify any women, nor does it exploit, condone or elicit unlawful behaviour. The AM Advertisement does not exploit sex and sexuality. It simply contains a somewhat humorous and catchy jingle,” the company argued.

However, while a minority of the board did not consider the jingle as discriminatory to wives, the majority of the board considered the ‘other than my wife’ was a statement which singled out wives as a group of people and implied they are not important within a marriage. It was the boards view that the ad was degrading to wives, thus the complaint was upheld.

Ashely Madison said it would respect the decision and abide by it despite not agreeing with it.

“We have decided to pull the ad and replace it with a different advertisement (which we believe will not receive nearly the same frequency of complaints). We will submit the new ad through the ordinary course with CAD, and once we are provided with the approval and the CAD numbers we will replace the current ad in with the new ad on a full 100% rotation,” Ashley Madison said.

Last year, complaints against an Ashley Madison ad generated topped 300 complaints, one of the most complained ads of the year.

Miranda Ward


Get the latest media and marketing industry news (and views) direct to your inbox.

Sign up to the free Mumbrella newsletter now.



Sign up to our free daily update to get the latest in media and marketing.