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Ashley Madison/Ruby Corp.
The new ads position the dating site as a service for more than just affairs.
SUBTLE

Watch: Ashley Madison’s poignant new ads manage to make infidelity look oddly charming

By Ashley Rodriguez

One year after a hack exposed data on millions of Ashley Madison members, including their secret sexual fantasies and credit card transactions, the dating site for adulterers is back with a new tagline and series of TV ads that reach beyond its usual crop of attached men and women who are looking to have an affair.

The three surprisingly poignant ads, created in-house by Ashley Madison’s parent company, Ruby Corp. (formerly Avid Life Media), feature a weary couple that’s stuck in a rut, a lonely man, and a despondent woman who seems disconnected from her husband. Only the latter, “Hotel,” directly suggests infidelity.

Set to a stirring soundtrack of songs by the UK folk artist Tom Rosenthal, the ads paint somber pictures of people who seem trapped in their lives and relationships and are looking for glimpses of joy. In “Subway,” the man finds that in a woman on the train, and in “Poly,” a couple is emboldened to spice up their relationship by bringing in a third person.

The ads are a marked departure from previous Ashley Madison commercials that used shock tactics and crude humor to attract the site’s clients, mostly men in committed relationships.

“Find your moment,” is the company’s new tagline. It’s somewhat subtler than the previous one: ”Life is short. Have an affair.”

Rob Segal, CEO of Ruby, said this was an intentional departure in style. ”It was a limiting label that’s outdated and doesn’t speak to the wide variety of connections people find on Ashley Madison,” he said in a statement. ”While remaining true to our roots, Ashley Madison needs to evolve, grow, and attune to modern sexuality in 2016.”

Nearly 45% of Ashley Madison’s members are single, he said, and more than 50% are attached and interested in a “wide range of experiences.”

The ads roll out on TV on July 18 and will be supported by a $10 million media buy, Ad Age’s Creativity reported.