A TV ad for Ashley Madison, the website which dubs itself “the world’s largest infidelity dating site”, has been pulled after airing during an episode of Nine’s Underbelly.
The ad, which features a half naked man and woman in bed, is understood to have attracted up to 100 complaints to the Advertising Standards Bureau since Sunday when it aired in Sydney. The ad features the message: “This couple is married…. but not with each other.”
The ad first launched in mid-May in Sydney and has aired during the NRL’s The Footy Show, the Friday night football and during the French Open. But until last Sunday’s airing during Underbelly’s last ad break, it had not received any complaints.
The free-to-air TV industry body Free TV contacted the website’s agency Frontier last night to inform them the ad had been reclassified from MA to S – which now means it can only be aired between 11pm to 5am and cannot be aired during sports and religious programs.
Mark O’Brien, Frontier’s media director, told Mumbrella that it was now reassessing whether there was any point on continuing to advertise on TV.
I’m of the opinion that the MA rating was correct, where you can run the ad post 9pm. If you watch episodes of Underbelly we see things that are 20 times worse. There’s drug taking, sex, violence and corruption. So, for everybody to be worried about infidelity is interesting.
I don’t know what we’ll be doing with TV now. Sports is our bread and butter and now that we can’t advertise in those times there’s not a lot of opportunity left.”
O’Brien said he has sent an email to Free TV today to contest the ad’s reclassification to S.
He added that it is now looking to increase its precense on radio, with ads currently running on Triple M in Sydney and Melbourne.
Ashley Madison has also booked an outdoor ad through Eye at Sydney Airport on June 21.
The website launched in Australia in April and claims to have attracted over 200,000 members so far.
The controversy over the ad has also had an awareness-building PR effect for the brand, with coverage on nineMSN and The Australian.