AshleyMadison.com is one of the most controversial "matchmaking" sites on the web. The site that aims to help married/attached people have an affair seems to get treated like the redheaded stepchild of the online hook-up world; it's been banned from advertising during the Super Bowl and censored by Facebook and Google.
Well, at least now we know the outrage about such a site isn't exclusive to the U.S. of A. Europe's answer to AshleyMadison.com is called VictoriaMilan.com. The site seems to have just recently stepped up its public ad campaign ... and started making a lot of people furious in the process.
In addition to TV commercials, city bus shelters sport billboards that ask, "Are you married? Liven up your life -- have an affair" (which doesn't vary much at all from the Ashley Madison tagline, "Life is short. Have an affair."). In only a matter of days, the Swedish Advertising Ombudsman had received more than 90 complaints about the ads, which sets a new record (it was previously 37).
I have to wonder ... what's the big deal?
I'd love to hear what people are actually saying when they call in to complain. It's not like there's any kind of graphic image on the ads. Is it that kids might see the ads and get the wrong idea? Well, it's not Victoria Milan's job to explain to young people about the values of fidelity. I don't think that's it, though.
It's that people seem to be terrified that advertising for sites like Ashley Madison and Victoria Milan is going to somehow brainwash or convince people to cheat. Sure, the taglines are encouraging adultery with that "Hey, come on! We challenge you!" tone -- but if someone is going to cheat, they're going to do it regardless. No advertisement is going to MAKE anyone do anything. The only thing that these ads spur is conversation and maybe curiosity ... and the opportunity to find someone to cheat with, if you're already hell-bent on cheating!
Also, reality check: After hearing about it, men and women will sign onto sites like these just to check it out and nothing more. Sites like these are a novelty, which is innately intriguing. You just have to wonder ... Are the people on the site all freak shows? (Mostly, yes.) Do they actually show their faces in their photos? (Sometimes, which is incredible, right?) I even did some investigative reporting on Ashley Madison around Valentine's Day, and let me tell you -- it's like taking a trip to the circus for the most part.
Sigurd Vedal, the founder of Victoria Milan, says the site is already doing crazy successful business. Ashley Madison's founder has said the same. That means there is a market for what they're providing -- a market that existed before they even stepped in to "assist." So instead of freaking out on the guys who are just taking advantage of the marketplace, how 'bout these complainers sit down with their partner and discuss trust issues? That might actually be more productive.
Are you upset by ads for sites like Ashley Madison and Victoria Milan -- why or why not?
Image via Lindarosephotography.com