Campaign Trail is our analysis of some of the best and worst new creative efforts from the marketing world. View past columns in the archives here.
Just as many people are tentatively resuming in-person dating, Tinder is back in the marketing game with a new partner in agency Mischief @ No Fixed Address. The duo's first campaign, out this month, highlights the niche interests of some users and celebrates the folks who embrace the unique personality of a dating partner, odd quirks and all.
The first of two lighthearted spots in "You're Not for Everyone" depicts a woman meditating in her living room, surrounded by candles and crystals and speaking affirmations aloud to herself — until a roommate walks in.
"Rachel, I will murder your family!" she shouts before returning to her ritual. The 30-second spot wraps with the hopeful line, "Your astral-rebirthing isn't for everyone, but it is for someone."
The fresh work wraps up a year of change for Tinder, which named a new chief marketer and agency of record in 2021, and debuted the Explore feature that matches users based on interests. Now, the dating app is delivering a new creative platform to build upon for years, according to Mischief's executive creative director Kevin Mulroy.
"We [started] with a truth about the brand or the people who use the brand: dating can really suck. The goal is to find people who are interested in you because of, not in spite of, your quirks," Mulroy said. "And Tinder is built to be a bit closer to the intuitive, spontaneous, organic way that you actually meet people in real life."
Keeping human connection alive
"You're Not for Everyone" takes a mixed media approach anchored by the hero spot that will appear on broadcast and streaming TV in the U.S. Shorter clips will run as paid social and pre-roll ads in both the U.S. and U.K.
Other creative includes "Binge Watchers," which depicts a woman crying alone on her couch while watching a soapy TV show. "Your passion for watching hot dumb people isn't for everyone," a voiceover says, followed by the campaign tagline promising that someone exists who shares the same passion.
"The campaign fits into our new brand mission — to keep the magic of human connection alive," Tinder CMO George Felix said over email. "We've just begun showcasing all the ways Tinder can bring this mission to life through our product experience."
The dating app in September introduced its Explore feature to match people based on their interests, rather than limiting users to swiping through a home page of potential suitors based on appearances. Explore will also host social experiences that differentiate Tinder as a dating app that's attempting to be more akin to a social network helping users meet new people. The new feature is similar to 2019's choose-your-own-adventure activity "Swipe Night" that won a Grand Prix at Cannes Lions.
Drawing inspiration from Gen Z — which makes up more than half of Tinder's user base — "You're Not for Everyone" was crafted to mirror the generation's mentality of dating more authentically, according to campaign details Tinder shared.
"Tinder has always been a place of discovery where you can break out of your bubble and meet just about anyone. It's been energizing to join the brand at a time when a new generation is redefining relationships and how they meet new people," said Felix, who previously directed the marketing strategies for Old Spice, KFC and Pizza Hut.
Although Mischief launched in the heat of the pandemic, the New York-based creative shop has built a strong portfolio with clients ranging from beauty brand Eos to Molson Coors. The partnership made sense for the U.S.'s most popular dating app based on the work Mischief produced for other brands, per Mulroy.
"Tinder came to us with a project, based on the work that we've done in the past. We were all so happy with the work and process that Tinder decided to make the union official," Mulroy said. "At Mischief we're big on collaboration, which was a great way for them to see how we actually work, rather than the contrived circumstances of a pitch process, where the agency is feeling around in the dark. As George Felix so aptly said, you know it when you see it. The feeling was wildly mutual."
"We [started] with a truth about the brand or the people who use the brand: dating can really suck. The goal is to find people who are interested in you because of, not in spite of, your quirks."
Executive creative director, Mischief
Since the pandemic's onset in 2020, online dating companies have seen a boom in usage. They've worked to meet the moment by prioritizing quality over quantity when it comes to marketing efforts, introducing fresh looks, creative platforms and features to woo users and differentiate themselves.
OkCupid launched a controversial-yet-inclusive campaign over the summer surrounding the platform's political filters. Bumble debuted a fresh "date on your own terms" tagline, while Match refreshed its app features and rolled out ads eyeing a more mature demographic.
Tinder over the years has worked to avoid the typical lovey-dovey predictability of online dating ads. Earlier this year, it debuted a campaign promoting the platform as a hub to meet new friends, not just for dating. Now, it's further expanding its horizons by developing fresh features, experiences and ad campaigns.
"Tinder is a brand that everyone is very familiar with and has pre-existing notions about," Mulroy said. "It's exciting to get to be a part of the evolution of the brand that goes well beyond swiping."