Ashley Madison is taking full advantage of the high profile congressional race by putting up two large billboards in Columbia, South Carolina. The billboards feature an image of philanderer Mark Sanford and the message, “Next time use . . . AshleyMadison.com to find your running mate.”
Ashley Madison CEO Noel Biderman explained that they’ve staged similar marketing campaigns before and in other countries. The extramarital “dating” site has featured ads with President Bill Clinton, Newt Gingrich, London Mayor Boris Johnson, Prince Charles, and the King of Spain.
Biderman sees moments like this as ones that normalize infidelity. “These campaigns are social commentary,” Biderman said.
Biderman wants Sanford to win and it has nothing to do with politics, it’s all about cultural acceptance of what his site does. “I want to be able to buy ads during the Super Bowl,” he noted.
When asked about the particular affair Sanford had, which the politician characterized as a love story and eventually proposed to his mistress, Biderman said, “I don’t think it’s uncommon to position infidelity as a love story,”
Still, Biderman admitted that most people on AshleyMadison.com hope to save, not sink, their marriages. “The vast majority of [Ashley Madison’s] users are looking for something much more temporary to supplement their marriages,” he said.
For the moment, the billboard (and other things) have South Carolina voters talking about Sanford’s indiscretions. The voting for the special election between Sanford and Elizabeth Colbert Busch begins on May 7.