Not that long ago, a betting man may have sworn jilted wives would be the group to bring website Ashley Madison down. Turns out, a massive data breach sealed the deal. But the data breach revealed more about the “cheating” website than a list of men looking to mess around. It pulled the curtain back revealing countless fake profiles and a host of other issues that embarrassed the company right along with the users.
The barrage of bad press and overexposure led to the resignation of CEO Noel Biderman as well as a shakeup on the leadership team up and down the line.
A lot of people thought that might be the end. Many said no management team could resurrect a company after that public of a PR disaster. But now market watchers are reporting Ashley Madison is going to relaunch with a new marketing approach and a new leadership team.
The first step the new management team took was to bring the core concept of the brand out of the shadows and try to force a more “mainstream” future. New CEO Rob Segal and new president James Millership joined up last spring, and they seem positively ecstatic about the company’s future.
Parent Company Name Change
One of the more dubious moves was to rename the parent company “Ruby” … dubious because, honestly, who cares? That’s not what anyone was upset about, and did anyone really know what the parent company was called before all this? Not many.
What might shift consumer thinking about the site is its new mission, communicated in a drastic change of messaging. Most folks remember the old “Life is short, have an affair” tagline. Even if you never heard it before, you likely remember it from the news reports related to the hacking scandal.
The new messaging is just as racy, though, some claim, less salacious: “Ashley Madison welcomes open-minded and adventurous people from every walk of life… Find sparks, butterflies and new experiences…”
New Market Strategy
The company is also effectively marketing to a new demographic. Singles. So, basically, leadership is trying to rebrand the “cheating” site as a dating site. At least, that’s how it’s playing in advertising circles.
The prevailing message: “We’re not who we were, but pay attention, because we can still shock and seduce you.”
Will the management shift and re-imagined messaging be enough to put the hacking mess behind them? Probably not, but it will be interesting to see what the management comes up with next. Will they continue the transformation or shift back to the shady side when the heat dies down ?
“David Firester is the CEO of TRAC Intelligence.”
*Note: this author’s brief analysis should not be confused with an endorsement of the product, nor the mission(s) associated with it.