Thursday, the ‘new kid on the block’ amongst the dating app scene has gone viral once again today.
The platform has caught my eye multiple times over the last few months, mostly due to guerrilla marketing channelled through one of its interns. Examples include her being handcuffed to a post for #CuffingSeason, being tasked to successfully hand out 1000 dates (as in the fruit) and having her stand in a busy London square holding a ‘worst internship ever’ cardboard cutout.
For these reasons, and pretty much for this alone as I am very much in a long term relationship, the dating company has stood out to me. Which is why, when an image of a man donning a “I cheated on my girlfriend on Thursday and this is my punishment” sign made its way to my Twitter feed this morning, I knew it was the brainchild of the company.
But was this a good thing?
But We’re Talking About Them, Right?
The phrase that bloody grinds my gears, perhaps more than anything else in the whole industry, is that “all publicity is good publicity” because it absolutely isn’t. It rips the core meaning of PR up from the root and changes it into something that it’s not. In the face of changing definitions of the industry, many seem to forget that public relations is actually about protecting reputations and public image. Therefore bad publicity, is exactly what it says on the tin. Bad. Nothing more. Exposure is worth next to nothing if it’s to do more damage than good, in my opinion.
Yet in an age where going viral is often the number one goal for brands, it’s clear to see why the waters can be muddied. Some may think that as long as you’re talking about a brand, then that can’t possibly be a bad thing. I respectfully disagree, and let me tell you why.
No, Lets Build Better Reputations Instead
Thursday has gone viral, so to speak, today – but at what cost? Its latest callous attempt at OOH marketing has certainly attracted attention, but for literally promoting adultery. Sure, many won’t take this too seriously – but do you really want your app to be associated with cheating and ruining relationships? This so far removed from the image that many dating platforms have tried to portray – think Hinge and its iconic “designed to be deleted” tagline, for example. Thursday is definitely an app that’s becoming more popular and has all the potential to be a real market disruptor, but starting on such a bad note is bound to do them no favours, I think.
On the surface, yes, we’re talking about Thursday. But when you actually think about it, is the fact that we’re talking about the app, going to result in more downloads of people genuinely looking to utilise it? Probably not. Not to mention, who’s going to want to partner commercially with an app that publicly promotes deceit? I’m not on the dating scene myself, but I can’t imagine being a cheater is much of a turn on! I don’t know, I’d be interested to see if there were more app downloads after this stunt today. If anyone finds out, let me know.
This isn’t the first time they’ve gotten it wrong either. Only recently the brand had to issue an apology after sending a pretty shady notification out to its users.
Taking things too far comes to mind.
I love a daring campaign as much as the next guy, and you have to take risks. I’m an advocate of it! Though bordering on the line of becoming too ‘sameish’ with their stunts, I think so far Thursday was doing a pretty damn good job of its marketing. Not to mention, I love the idea of the app in itself. So with this in mind, I have to say it’s an awful shame to say that after today, I truly no longer think they’ve got it in the bag. In fact, I think they fudged up… Big time. I’d love to know how many people signed off this idea, and whether they considered reputation management at all when giving the go ahead? Are brand mentions and a bit of social noise really worth it in the face the potential repercussions? That’s a lot of rhetorical questions, I know.
Or Is This Just PR Now?
Sadly, I think this is a sign of our times. PR has become more about getting everyone talking about your brand, and not really caring (or even being ethical) about how you make that happen. Yes, going viral is fab, but can we also remember there’s beauty in long-term, sustained campaigns that build a wonderful and sturdy brand reputation. Or am I too old fashioned?
Let me know your thoughts on Twitter.