No Streetcars Named Desire: Toronto Bans Adultery Ads on Public Transit

Last Updated Dec 16, 2009 6:22 AM EST

The CEO of AshleyMadison.com -- the website for married folks to find other married folks who want to commit adultery with them -- offered to subsidize fares on Toronto's streetcars if the transit authority allowed him to advertise on their property.

CEO Noel Biderman was turned down, but not before earning enough media ink in the Canadian city to make up for the lost advertising exposure. AshleyMadison had wanted to emblazon cars with the words "Life Is Short. Have an Affair," but transit authorities didn't want a client who advocates lying, according to the National Post:
"When it's a core fundamental value around cheating or lying, we're not going to let those kinds of ads go on," [a commissioner] said. "It's not about sexuality, it's about cheating. We would not have accepted an ad that said 'Life is short, cheat on your exams.' It's frankly a no-brainer."

... The decision came after Mr. Biderman offered to subsidize fares by 50 cents for anyone riding a streetcar featuring his company's ads, in addition to the potential advertising buy of $200,000 for 10 streetcars.
What he lost in advertising value he more than made up for in PR exposure. Not helping: CBS Outdoor was apparently confused as to whether the ads were going ahead or not:
E-mails apparently from CBS Outdoor, the company that handles all TTC advertising, had told AshleyMadison.com as late as Thursday the ad had been approved by the city's advertising review committee.
CBS Outdoor declined to comment Friday.
(Disclosure: CBS Outdoor is owned by CBS, the same company that owns BNET.) Although the product he's pitching -- affairs -- kind of sells itself, Biderman is a master at injecting himself into the media. He recently offered Tiger Woods $5 million to become the new face of AshleyMadison. (Hold on, if all Tiger's affairs ended up in horrible public humiliation, how does this sell AshleyMadison?)

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