“Life is short. Have an affair.”

That’s the slogan an online dating service proposed using in a transit advertising campaign which was summarily rejected last week by the TTC:

The Red Rocket is no place to encourage extramarital liaisons, the transit commission’s advertising committee decided.  […]

The ad doesn’t jive with taste or community standards criteria for public transit ads, said councillor and committee member Suzan Hall.

“What individuals choose to do is what individuals choose to do, but as far as the TTC is concerned, I am never going to support that we promote infidelity.”

The ad doesn’t “jive“, eh?  I think the G&M means “jibe“, but never mind that.   The Morality Police thought the ad was a whole lotta jive and got right to work typing their stubby little fingers to the bone firing email after outraged email at the TTC:

TTC staff referred the ad to the committee on Thursday, which is customary practice for anything they think might be problematic. Since AshleyMadison.com sent out press releases announcing the ad this week, “e-mails are coming in hot and heavy” in response, Ms. Hall said – none of them positive.

And took to the interwebs for more SHRIEEEEEK! “Stop persecuting us with this anti-life, anti-family advertising!:

“To blatantly advertise cheating in this manner where people of all ages, including children, are open to it, means people may be incredibly offended,” Dave Quist, executive director of the Institute of Marriage and Family Canada, told the National Post.

“People are generally outraged by that type of a lifestyle and to advertise it in such a public fashion, in my opinion, is wrong.”

Gwen Landolt, vice president of REAL Women of Canada, said that while her organization believes in free speech, the Ashley Madison ads go too far.

Of course.  The Morality Police always believe in free speech, except when they don’t.  If that bus board was emblazoned with a certain verse from the Old Testament, oh, I don’t know, say maybe… Leviticus? you can bet they’d be holding the free speech flag high.  Because free speech is context-dependent.

As is the free market, apparently.   If a private company wants to advertise its product, shouldn’t the “invisible hand”, not the Morality Police, determine whether that product survives or not?  And although I don’t recommend adultery, if someone wants to do it, who am I to say that they can’t?

Besides, people aren’t swayed to have affairs by advertising, or the presence of sex trade workers, or pron, or any of the other amenities of the sex business.   Contrary to what sex-obsessed socon busybodies would have us believe about our inability to think for ourselves in matters of love and lust (the same way the Taliban makes women cover up because men are dumb brutes who can’t resist their carnal charm), the sex business serves a need that already exists and people seek it out by choice, not the other way around.

But let’s have some fun with this:  let’s think up a new bus board ad for this campaign, something the Morality Police can’t target.  I bet if Ashley Madison had used something like “Life is short — Do it” or “Life is short — Go for it”, those things would be running around Toronto on the sides of buses right now.

37 Responses to ““Life is short. Have an affair.””

  1. 1 Torontonian Sunday, December 13, 2009 at 10:13 am

    The general thinking around town is that Ashley Madison
    wasn’t serious about the ad in the first place.
    If it could present an outrageous idea like the ad
    and get the media to swallow it, it means the agency
    would get more publicity than it could buy!

    Since the tabloids and talk radio are all over this
    like ants at a picnic, it’s exactly what Ashley
    Madison wanted–free publicity.

    A M was never intending to pay for the ads; all it
    wanted was the resultant media exposure, which it
    got in spades.

    CFRB, a Toronto talk radio station, does the same
    think with its publicity. Every bit of controversy
    to their ads is more free publicity that it doesn’t
    have to pay for!

    You’d think by now people would stop falling for the
    same stunt.

    Go to the website http://www.sowny.ca and look for the
    posting titled “Did We Ever Get Scammed”.

    Very often I wonder if what’s on the news is news
    or controversy-generated free publicity in aid of
    a person or business. Yet the media buy it.

  2. 2 Reality Bites Sunday, December 13, 2009 at 10:27 am

    As I started to read this and hit “jive” I immediately hit the link to make sure it was the source’s fault and not a transcription error of yours before blasting with both barrels.

    As I waited for the Globe’s site to load I saw that your first comments was on the “jive”

    I think these people are all filthy-minded. Obviously Ashley-Madison is a catering firm!

    Seriously though, what is the point of a website specifically for people seeking affairs with married people?

    That’s like launching sites where:

    “We guarantee all our members look older than they appear in their photos!”

    “We solemnly promise that everyone is at least 20 lb heavier and 2 inches shorter than they claim!”

    “When our members say they’re ‘straight-acting’ please keep in mind that Joan Rivers is unquestionably straight.”

    “Feel guilty about your attraction to 18-year-olds? Your worries are at an end. All members claiming to be 18 are at least 30.”

    Handy Translator to things men say in ads:
    I’m married – I’m single but only want no-strings sex
    I’m divorced – We talked about it once ten years ago.
    I’m separated – I thought about talking about it ten years ago
    I’m single – I’m married
    I’m in an open relationship – but my wife’s in a monogamous one
    Open to experimenting with … – I’m completely impotent unless we …
    Enjoy long walks – from my car to the Beer Store entrance
    Love kids – Please describe what yours look like naked.
    Love dogs – I wish I could lick my own balls too
    Love cats – I’m a lesbian posing as a man
    Committment orientated – Most of my relatives were institionalized before 40 and I’m headed that way too.
    Told I’m good-looking – but only by friends and relatives who’d never have to confirm it by sleeping with me
    Free-spirited – I hope you brought enough money to pay for both of us.
    Can’t pick you up, my car’s at the dealer – where it will remain until I get enough money to finally purchase it.
    Athletic – I watch the Super Bowl. For the ads.
    Self-employed – unemployed
    Enjoy musical theatre – (Gay site: saw the movie version of Mamma Mia. Straight site: gay. Lesbian site: I’m Rosie O’Donnell)

  3. 3 Reality Bites Sunday, December 13, 2009 at 10:30 am

    P.S. I can’t believe I wrote “orientated”


  4. 4 JJ Sunday, December 13, 2009 at 10:31 am

    Torontonian – I’ve been away from the Ad Biz too long, that angle didn’t even occur to me (cue Bruce to say “You must be kidding, you didn’t see that a mile away??”).

    Although now that you bring it up, I remember doing similar things on a couple of accounts I worked on, where the creative was meant to cause a stir, not the message.

    I should have caught on as soon as I read that there was a press release, that’s kind of a telltale sign.

  5. 5 JJ Sunday, December 13, 2009 at 10:39 am

    RB – 😆 😆 😆 😆 😆 😆 😆 😆

    Well done!!!

  6. 6 BlastFurnace Sunday, December 13, 2009 at 12:05 pm

    Maybe because it’s in English that it turns heads. When I was in Montréal a few years back, I saw ads on the subways that said “Do it in the church” or “I do it when I’m hungry” (ads for text messaging); or “97% think about it, 3% do it” (donate blood). And a few years ago, the EU had a movie ad promoting the cause of European movies over the Hollywood factory with the Beatles’ song “Come together” and the inevitable moaning for a whole minute. That one turned heads but nothing like the atheist ad “controversy” or this one.

    The TTC are idiots on this one — I don’t like what Ashley Madison stands for but it’s not like a neo-Nazi group is promoting itself and most married people and even those just dating inevitably cheat; all that has happened is AM has gotten free publicity and the TTC lost a whole lot of ad revenue when they desperately need it.

  7. 7 fern hill Sunday, December 13, 2009 at 1:07 pm

    That’s my reaction, Blast Furnace. The TTC should have taken the dough and let the shrieeeekers shrieeeek. That woulda been fun. 😉

  8. 8 Parliament Shill Sunday, December 13, 2009 at 1:36 pm

    Dave Quist says he’s “incredibly offended.” Incredible. As in, not credible. How strangely fitting.

  9. 9 JJ Sunday, December 13, 2009 at 1:56 pm

    blast furnace – I’m with you! If someone wants to run an ad for whatever product or service they’re selling, whether it’s a church or a brothel, why not? I means nothing to me if I don’t like their product — I just won’t buy it.

    There are 2 kinds of advertising: (1) To convince people to try a product and (2) To convince people already using the product (or thinking about it) to use your brand. Advertising of things like dating services is the 2nd kind. The Morality Squad will argue that it’s the first kind, and that it’s persuasive enough to flip people from being a devoted spouse to a slut, but the human condition just doesn’t work that way.

  10. 10 JJ Sunday, December 13, 2009 at 1:57 pm

    fern hill – Ahhhh, can you imagine!?? Hundreds of blog posts worth of shrieking 😆

  11. 11 S Sunday, December 13, 2009 at 2:01 pm

    Wait, are you saying that you can only have an “affair” if you are married? Because I’m single, and have a little fling with another single person, isn’t that an affair?

  12. 12 JJ Sunday, December 13, 2009 at 2:02 pm

    PS – I’m incredibly offended by Dave Quist. So I guess we’re even.

  13. 13 JJ Sunday, December 13, 2009 at 2:13 pm

    S – Hm, not a bad point.

    The term “affair” usually applies to “extramarital affairs”, and that’s certainly how people like Quist and Landolt are looking at it in this case, as some kind of assault on the institution of marriage.

    Generally when the people involved are single, it’s a fling.

  14. 14 Reality Bites Sunday, December 13, 2009 at 2:45 pm

    Moreover, Ashley Madison is explicitly for married people seeking affairs, so it’s a bit like saying a site called “Hot Gay Encounters” could potentially be a site to arrange family picnics in the Bahamas despite the pictures of men having sex used to illustrate it.

  15. 15 Rob F Sunday, December 13, 2009 at 4:45 pm

    “But let’s have some fun with this: let’s think up a new bus board ad for this campaign, something the Morality Police can’t target. I bet if Ashley Madison had used something like “Life is short — Do it” or “Life is short — Go for it”, those things would be running around Toronto on the sides of buses right now.”

    Anybody here old enough to remember what Madonna said? How about a bus as saying: “Thank you for causing so much controversy!”

  16. 16 Reality Bites Sunday, December 13, 2009 at 6:03 pm

    But why would “Life is short – Go for it” make anyone – especially a man – go to a site called AshleyMadison unless they already knew about it?

  17. 17 JJ Sunday, December 13, 2009 at 11:09 pm

    RB – That’s all they do, is help arrange extramarital stuff? 😆 Doesn’t say a lot for the sanctity of heterosexual marriage if an entire business can be built around thwarting it, now does it?

  18. 18 JJ Sunday, December 13, 2009 at 11:11 pm

    Rob F

    “Thank you for causing so much controversy!”

    That’d work!

  19. 19 RealityBites Monday, December 14, 2009 at 7:04 am

    Well they don’t require you to be married, but it’s geared towards that, just as other sites are aimed at singles.

    In an interview I saw through one of the news stories, the founder said it’s something like 70% of the men and 30% of the women who are married.

  20. 20 toujoursdan Monday, December 14, 2009 at 7:18 am

    I dunno. As much as I dislike the sanctimonious “Family Values” crowd, advertising a website that encourages people to lie to their spouses (which often puts them at risk for STDs) and hurt innocent kids, who are often caught in the crossfire, on city owned property makes me very uncomfortable. We all bear the social and financial costs when families fall apart.

    Advertise counselling services or divorce attorneys instead.

  21. 21 JJ Monday, December 14, 2009 at 1:11 pm

    toujoursdan – Yeah but do you really think that seeing these bus ads will make anyone do something they weren’t thinking about already?

    Someone who’s happy in their relationship isn’t going to see this ad and suddenly think, “Hmm, yeah, I think I’ll put everything that means anything to me on the line for a fling.” I just can’t believe people are that dumb. (I’ve been wrong about that before, though…)

  22. 22 JJ Monday, December 14, 2009 at 1:13 pm

    RB – So in other words, overall men/women only about half of their customers are married? I’m surprised it’s not more.

  23. 23 RealityBites Monday, December 14, 2009 at 2:06 pm

    If their customer base is 50/50 male/female, but it’s probably much more male.

    I just found this –


    AshleyMadison.com, a website that helps married people connect for extra-marital affairs, has been disallowed from having an ad in the official Super Bowl program.

    The company that produces the Super Bowl game program originally accepted to run a print ad, but backed away from the deal once they realized what the website was about.

  24. 24 Bruce Monday, December 14, 2009 at 4:32 pm

    I suppose if I wanted to, as a gay man I could make a real big case out of how so many straight people said that gay marriage would undermine straight marriage, destroy civilization, cause planes to fall from the sky and so on…

    …And I could say it seems to me that the straights do a good enough on their own without any help from me.

    But I won’t say that. 😉

  25. 25 Rob Monday, December 14, 2009 at 5:29 pm

    “Life is short…..find a man who isn’t.”

    I should get into advertising.

  26. 26 human about Monday, December 14, 2009 at 6:07 pm

    for me, life is a struggle. a wise man onced said, a true warrior is a man who can defeats his lust.
    i added u in my link list, would u add me too ?. thanx

  27. 27 Cornelius T.Zen Monday, December 14, 2009 at 6:42 pm

    Good morrow, all!
    “I can resist anything, except temptation” – Oscar Wilde.
    JJ – “I just can’t believe people are that dumb” *AHEM!* If people were NOT that dumb: real estate would not be that expensive. The stock market would never crash. Sarah Palin would not sell one copy of “her” book. Bill O’Reilly, Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck would be selling pencils on the corner. Teachers and nurses would be getting paid what they’re worth. Face it, JJ – “Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public” – PT Barnum
    We has met the enemy. They is us. – CTZen

  28. 28 JJ Monday, December 14, 2009 at 7:59 pm

    RB – Oh yeah, their customer base probably more male than female… frustrated fundies whose wives won’t fuck them because they won’t use contraception and there’s only 2 days a month they can do it without worrying about getting knocked up.

    That’s interesting at the link — maybe this bus ad was for real, and not just to cause controversy.

  29. 29 JJ Monday, December 14, 2009 at 8:06 pm


    …And I could say it seems to me that the straights do a good enough on their own without any help from me.

    No kidding! The whole institution of marriage was already headed down the tubes before gay people realized it’s their right too, and that created interest in it again. If it wasn’t for that, I bet nobody would be getting married anymore!

    And I’m not kidding — this is borne out by statistics. Since gay people started getting married, more straight people are getting married. (I’m pretty sure I blogged about it a couple of years ago.)

  30. 30 JJ Monday, December 14, 2009 at 8:07 pm

    Rob 😆 Very good! How about “life is hard…” oh, never mind.

  31. 31 JJ Monday, December 14, 2009 at 8:09 pm

    human – I appreciate your interest but this probably isn’t the kind of blog you want to link to. We’re not about defeating our lust, we embrace it in a frenzy.

  32. 32 JJ Monday, December 14, 2009 at 8:15 pm


    Face it, JJ – “Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public” – PT Barnum

    You’re probably right… it’s just so terrifying to think that people really are that dumb, but I guess it’s undeniable.

    I mean, I wonder how many times today some poor dumbass fell for one of those scams where they have to pay $10,000 as a deposit before they can get that million dollar lottery prize?

    Dumbness and greed. Two inevitable facets of the human condition. I’ll be brooding on this for the rest of the evening…

  33. 33 Bruce Monday, December 14, 2009 at 8:16 pm

    JJ, I never thought about it that way, but it’s a good point, we probably did remind people of something they took for granted.

    Brucie is liking this 🙂

  34. 34 Dr. Prole Monday, December 14, 2009 at 8:37 pm

    Did somebody say frenzied lust?

  35. 35 Frank Frink Tuesday, December 15, 2009 at 5:20 am

    One quibble, CTZen. This quote:

    “Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public”

    It very often attributed to P.T. Barnum and as with many quotes attributed to Barnum he probably didn’t say it.

    A more likely source is H. L. Mencken who actually wrote:

    “No one in this world, so far as I know…has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people.”
    – from “Notes on Journalism”, Chicago Tribune , September 19, 1926

    What’s also interesting is what Mencken wrote immediately following that:

    “Nor has any one ever lost public office thereby. The mistake that is made always runs the other way. Because the plain people are able to speak and understand and even, in many cases, to read and write, it is assumed that they have ideas in their heads, and an appetite for more. This assumption is folly. They dislike ideas, for ideas make them uncomfortable. The tabloids, seeking to force such things upon them, will inevitably alarm them and lose their trade. The journalism of the future that is, the mob journalism will move in the direction that I have indicated.”

  36. 36 RealityBites Tuesday, December 15, 2009 at 7:22 am

    JJ, I don’t know about that frustrated fundy angle. They hold no monopoly on adultery – just on spending their entire lives pontificating against it and other sexual activities until they get caught.

    From http://www.datingsiteswiki.com/page/AshleyMadison:

    So far, the site has over 3,320,000 members mainly in the Canada, followed by the U.S, while Toronto, Los Angeles and New York are the top three cites in terms of the total number of active members.

    So I’d guess their base is as non-fundy as you could get.

  37. 37 Cornelius T.Zen Tuesday, December 15, 2009 at 8:12 am

    Good morrow, all!
    FF: Didn’t Mencken have an optimistic outlook about the public, eh? He actually predicted such things as the tabloids (the Natural Inquisitor, et al) the tabloid slicks (Peephole Magazine and the ilk) and Fox News. BTW, I appreciate the correction. I really should have sourced that quote a little more diligently.
    Find a prejudice and feed it. Bread and circuses. The public will never get enough of them. It’s a diversionary tactic as old as Julius Caesar. Politicians substitute activity for achievement, and everybody is entertained. Like trying to live on cotton candy.
    As for the “OUTRAGE!!!111!!!” over a dating service finding the right nerve, hey, more power to them! The fundies are clueless about love, and they want everybody else to be just as clueless.
    Therein lies their troubles. They prattle about the love of God, and they don’t really love themselves, or anybody else.
    To paraphrase Jesus: Don’t come praying to Me until you make peace with your brother. If you can’t love him, you don’t love Me. If you don’t love Me, don’t come knocking on My door.
    Life is short. Love somebody. Pay it forward – CTZen

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