Match Hires Rebel Wilson to Personify the Frustrations of Dating

I could write a book about dating. Two books, actually. One covering the love life of my 20’s and early 30’s and one about dating over 50. Both would be fascinating, but in very different ways. And the book about my marriage, between the ages of 36 & 51, would be something else entirely.

Having wasted most of those younger days on cheap thrills, bad behavior and a certain cluelessness toward women, I’ll save those stories for my memoirs and spare myself the pain of reliving them right now.

Fortunately, these are better days. While some of the women I’ve gone out with since my divorce might disagree, I can confidently say that a combination of hard work, introspection, psychotherapy has made me a much better man. But there’s another momentous difference between my current state of singledom and the old days before marriage.

That would be Internet Dating, a topic taken on with insight, honesty and humor in a new campaign from Match starring Rebel Wilson.

She’s an unexpected spokesperson and a sharp contrast from the well put together, attractive singles of past Match ads. Rebel couldn’t be further from the young, skinny very cute but seemingly mindless woman who whines, “I’d really like to meet someone special.” We know.

Rebel also whines. And growls and cries and bangs her head on the table as she laments “the disaster called dating.” It’s all very funny, but sad at the same time. One spot takes us through some depressing statistics that shouldn’t really surprise anyone:

  • 42% of singles say love feels lost.
  • 35% of singles have been ghosted. (That’s got to be low, right?)
  • 45% of singles have received a dick pic.
  • Only 9% of singles want to date casually. (Is this good or bad?)

The spots are organized around a fictional podcast called “Let’s Make Love with Rebel Wilson.” She tells us right away that “emotional intimacy” would be wonderful. But aside from that, there’s virtually no optimism. Even when she aspires to “real commitment,” it’s undercut by a joke. “Real commitment – like switching to cashew milk together.”

So how does any of this motivate people to use Match? Or to date at all for that matter? A classic marketing analysis of this campaign would have killed it long before it saw the light of day. A “pain point” was certainly identified, but how does Match address it? What’s the benefit? How is Match different from other dating services? None of these questions are answered. A more, let’s say “traditional” client would have sent the agency back to the drawing board, possibly insisting on inserting a series of rational benefits into the copy, like “people get 14.3% more dates on Match” or that “more marriages result from Match than any other dating app.”

Fortunately, that’s not what happened here. Brand attitude, personality and social responsibility is the new positioning, and Match nails two out of three in this campaign.

The brand embraces a true market leader approach, leveraging empathy and the shock of recognition to communicate the universal frustrations of the dating process. No single person using dating apps can possibly look at these videos without saying, “Yes…that’s true for me!”

The classic packaged goods “problem/solution” formula doesn’t apply here. The recipe for finding your soulmate is far more complex than the recipe for better avocado toast. It’s a process, and a tedious and painful one at that. Single people already have a very personalized vision of what “success” looks like. Match doesn’t really have to show positive outcomes with happy, smiling attractive couples who have found true love. That would be oversimplified and not entirely believable.

For students of marketing communications, this evolution of the leadership strategy is also noteworthy. Thirty years ago, Campbell’s Soup might have run ads touting the “goodness” and comfort of eating more soup, essentially promoting the category. Owning a dominant share of the soup business, they understood that if they could help the category grow the benefits would accrue to their brand disproportionately.

Match isn’t telling people to date or to use dating apps. They are illuminating universal truths about dating and counting on their reach, reputation and other marketing mix elements to pull and push people into their brand. It’s a resolutely confident approach.

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