Ashley Madison Revamps Its Image by Toning Down Its Message of Infidelity

Drops 'Life is short. Have an affair,' tagline

Headshot of Katie Richards

Forget the old Ashley Madison, the one that told you outright to follow your bliss and cheat on your partner; the one that opened itself up to a massive hack exposing user data to the world. Today Ashley Madison reveals a new image, one that the brand thinks is much more elegant and female-friendly (but still gives users the opportunity to break their vows) and hopes to move on from its troubled past. 

If any brand out there was in need of a new image, Ashley Madison was high on the list, and it's clearly made some moves in the right direction. First, the brand's parent company is getting it's own revamp, changing its name from Avid Life Media to Ruby to represent modern relationships (like the ones created on Ashley Madison) which are "multi-faceted," the brand said.

In terms of the Ashley Madison property, Ruby decided it was time to drop the crude "Life is short. Have an affair," tagline in favor of something classier. New 60-second TV spots, created by Ruby's in-house creative team, will now use the line, "Find your moment." Ruby CEO Rob Segal said of the new tagline: "We kept talking about what our customers were saying to us, how they have these moments where they felt desired, felt in control or they felt butterflies."

In the new work, the brand is hoping to "tell more than just one story," Segal said, and show the world that cheaters aren't the only ones using Ashley Madison. Single people, for example, make up 45 percent of the user base. "Subway" focuses on the single community, telling the story of a melancholy man who catches a glimpse of an attractive woman on his morning commute. The spot nicely captures that feeling of attraction or even love at first sight.

Then there are those on Ashley Madison who might be fully committed to each other, but have lost that spark and want to use the platform to ignite the spark in their relationship as seen in "Poly."

Then, of course, there are those who will use the platform to have an affair. "Hotel" is the only spot to touch on the subject of infidelity, telling the story from a woman's perspective (hey ladies, welcome to Ashley Madison!) who currently make up roughly 20 percent of the brand's users.

The distraught woman has gone to counseling with her husband and tried to make it work, but nothing changes. The spot seems to argue that because this woman is trapped in a loveless marriage, but she's tried really hard to make it work, cheating is the next best option.

Clearly the strategy for Ashley Madison's new spots are far removed from some of its older tactics, which included a few controversial billboards, one featuring Hillary Clinton striking the signature Ashley Madison pose. The decision diversify the reasons to use Ashley Madison is smart, but affairs are still expected to be part of the platform and can't be glossed over. In the new work the implication of cheating is much more subtle. But we all know it's still there, and that may be troubling for some.

Segal isn't worried though. He believes the toned down approach will help Ashley Madison by showing a softer, more elegant side of the brand. "I don't think it's necessary to be so over the top with it," he added. 

The music in the spots, by singer Tom Rosenthal, plays nicely into each of the storylines and captures that feeling of butterflies and sparks quite nicely. Of course then the realization hits that you're watching an ad about infidelity and you feel a little less warm and fuzzy inside. 

The brand revamp also includes an updated logo and imagery. Moving forward, users will no longer see a logo with a wedding band replacing the "O" in Madison, paired with an image of a woman putting a finger to her lips, suggesting she's keeping a secret.


Creative Director: Justine Galea

Director: Jared Pelletier

Producer: Michael Chwastiak

Executive Producer: Brian Offenheim

Director of Photography: Kiel Milligan

@ktjrichards Katie Richards is a staff writer for Adweek.