Another day, another "scandalous" PR stunt from Ashley Madison: yesterday, the infamous dating website for cheaters offered a million-dollar-prize to any woman who can prove she's slept with professed virgin football player Tim Tebow. But it's all for the common good, you guys — Ashley Madison CEO Noel Biderman told Blackbook last November that he constantly pitches seedy advertisements that he knows will eventually be pulled or flat-out rejected because he feels responsible for the evolution of society, not because he wants to make tons of cash. (The website receives a new member every 6.5 seconds, by the way.) "As an entrepreneur, part of my responsibility to society is to constantly help it evolve, the way an artist does, the way lots of people do. We're not just in it to make money," he said. Mmmk. Here's a list of the top ten Ashley Madison stunts from the past few years, ranked from the truly gross to the bizarre and maybe — maybe — teensiest bit well-intentioned.
10. Aggressive Fatshaming
Last Halloween, Ashley Madison used a photo of the owner and model of a BBW website (without her consent) to ask, "Did your wife scare you last night?" (You know, because she's so fat and disgusting, like a ghoul!) A similar ad comparing the curvacious model to a skinnier woman with a green check mark next to her body (the plus-sized lady posed alongside a red X, naturally), ran the following week.
After we published an essay from the "scary" model's point of view, Biderman responded with this:
The best thing that could've happened to this woman is that we used her in our ad. Despite what she may want you to think, she is reaping the press for her own pornography website. She took these pictures and signed the release knowing that they were not just for 'personal use.' However, if she can get great publicity from this, all the power to her.
Hey, what happened to "social responsibility"?
9. Attempting to Advertise on Rush Limbaugh's Radio Show
Many advertisers quickly cut ties from Rush Limbaugh's show after he called Sandra Fluke a whore, but Ashley Madison bravely stepped in to save the day, offering to buy Limbaugh's canceled inventory for three months.
"We do not believe Mr. Limbaugh should be penalized for expressing his opinion, especially in America," Biderman said. "We are offering to step up and fill the void left by the corporations who have pulled their advertising. Rush has always been a controversial figure and we have always been a controversial service so we can relate."
Ashley Madison: proudly defending the rights of men who call women sluts across the nation.
8. Endorsed Newt Gingrich, Billboards and All
Before Newt Gingrich dropped out of the presidential race, Ashley Madison erected a billboard proclaiming support for the alleged serial cheater. Funny thing: Gingrich had recently taken a "no adultery" pledge promising "to uphold the institution of marriage through personal fidelity to my spouse and respect for the marital bonds of others." No matter!
Biderman explained: "Now that Newt is the leading contender in the race for the GOP nomination, we felt compelled to make a point to illustrate how times have changed when a serial divorcee/adulterer is capturing the hearts of the American people."
7. Called the King of Spain a Cheater
Things didn't go so smoothly when Ashley Madison tried to put up a poster on Madrid's main street depicting King Juan Carlos alongside Prince Charles and Bill Clinton with the caption: "What do these ‘royals' have in common? –- They should have used Ashley Madison." King Carlos has never actually been caught cheating, and the company didn't have his permission to use his image (apparently that's a prerequisite when it comes to Spanish advertisements?), so they quickly took the ad down. No statement from Biderman this time!
6. Offered Herman Cain an "Ambassador" Position.
Ashley Madison offered alleged sexual harasser and former presidential nominee Herman Cain $400,000 to be the company's "ambassador" and "president of international affairs." Biderman explained:
We think we know what kind of individual Herman is and we are trying to say to him that there is a better way to pursue those interpersonal relationships and if he wants to come and be employed with us until 12/12/12 of next year and help explain how people should avoid these kind of disclosures in the future by using Ashley Madison, he'd be a great advocate for the product.
Sadly, Cain didn't accept the position. Maybe because it was only for a year and didn't offer enough job security?
5. Gave Gene Simmons Some Bizarre Wedding Presents
When Gene Simmons got married, Ashley Madison gave him a Magimix toaster from Williams-Sonoma (score!) and 1 million Ashley Madison credits, so he can "pursue (practically) unlimited discreet affairs for the rest of your life." Biderman sent him a sweet card along with the gifts, of course:
Your decades spent as in international playboy inspired not only me, but millions of horny men around the world. As you and your bride enter the sacred oath of matrimony this weekend, we wanted to provide you the best gift we could think of.
4. Filmed an Obligatory "Banned" Super Bowl Ad.
Really, Ashley Madison? This "Go Daddy" copycat advertisement is the best you could come up with? We expect more from you!
3. Fake-Offered to Save a Scottish Soccer Team
Ashley Madison offered to buy the Glasgow-based Rangers Football Club if they would paint their blue stands pink, proposing extra cash if they would wear pink ‘Ashley Madison' emblazoned shirts. Biderman explained:
"Sport runs through my veins and I am passionate about ensuring the future of this globally-renowned football club...Sportsmen are famous for their cheating ways and we feel linking our dating site with this impressive club's performance historically and tying in to its future will create a powerful partnership."
Doesn't it feel like the bullshit is a little lacking in Biderman's statement this time around, almost like he's getting sick of making up reasons to justify his "wacky" stunts?
2. The Aforementioned Tim Tebow Million-Dollar Bounty
Honestly, we kind of appreciate this one, because it would be such a slap in the face for abstinence and antiabortion advocates if Ashley Madison was able to find a woman who can prove she has been romantically involved with the virgin NFL star. According to a press statement, Ashley Madison will "accept photographs, video, DNA or a sworn affidavit from the woman's mother who can prove a romantic involvement with Tebow in order to qualify for $1 million."
Here's Biderman's take via Metro NY:
As a former sports attorney I have seen with my own eyes the night in and night out temptations that are placed in front of professional athletes. Couple that with having to play on the hottest stage in sports and his limited talents, and I thought: "Why not challenge his personal notions?"
1. They (Almost) Bought Some Zoos
The most bizarre and semi do-goodery Ashley Madison stunt is the company's recent offer to fund several Toronto zoos that are in danger of closing — in exchange for naming rights, naturally. Before you get too excited about baby animals, check out Biderman's recent tweet: "You'll love the cougars at our zoo!" Ugh. It's impossible to give this guy props for anything.