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Friday, January 30, 2009

CTV Bans a Superbowl Ad From Canadian Airwaves

A Toronto-based online dating service for cheaters has called offside on CTV after the network sacked its Super Bowl commercial. The Ashley Madison Agency, the self-proclaimed "world's premier discreet dating service," produced a 30-second spot to air during Sunday's broadcast of the NFL championship between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Arizona Cardinals. And although the ad will run in at least one major city in the U.S. during the big game on NBC, it won't see airtime in this country despite being okayed by the Telecaster Committee of Canada to run after 9 p.m.

CTV said in a statment it doesn't want an ad "promoting adultery" running alongside "quality brands" in its Super Bowl advertising roster. That decision left Ashley Madison president Noel Biderman angrier than a jilted lover. "We're just really livid that it's not being seen in the country where the business was born and where it's focused," Biderman said. "I think that absent a regulatory reason, CTV is offside here."

The service, founded in 2001, caters to two-timers and boasts 3.5 million members, Biderman said. On its website, the tagline reads, "Life Is Short. Have An Affair." The ad itself isn't overtly racy and focuses on an attractive woman growing fed up with her distracted, oafish husband on their anniversary date. At the end, after her hubby has deserted her at the table, presumably because of work, she makes eyes with another man on the other side of the room. They both smile at each other. "Isn't it time for Ashley Madison?" a female voice asks.

Not according to CTV -- especially during the ratings bonanza provided by the Super Bowl. Last year's game, also broadcast on CTV, was the most-watched ever in Canada, with 5.15 million viewers across the country. "The Super Bowl attracts a broad audience composed of families, men and women, young and old," said Scott Henderson, a spokesman for the network. "An advertisement for a website promoting adultery does not meet the standards for the quality brands associated with this premier television property and major social event."

However, the same ad will run in the U.S. on ESPN, CNN, FOX News and MSNBC, Biderman pointed out. Biderman accused CTV of being "extremely hypocritical" for spurning his ad while running others for alcohol products, which he said cause more harm than Ashley Madison. Labatt Breweries is one of the advertisers during Sunday's game. Biderman said Ashley Madison doesn't convince anyone to have an affair and merely accommodates people who have already made that decision. "Physical intimacy is no different than requiring oxygen to breathe or water to drink," Biderman said. "If it's missing in your relationship, I don't care who you are ... you're going to step outside your relationship. That's the bottom line."

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