Ad Regulator Rules Match.com ‘Keeper’ TikTok Was Sexist


A static page for the Match.com app that says "View singles" is shown.

The UK’s advertising regulator determined the Match.com TikTok was not a keeper.
Photo: STRF/STAR MAX/IPx (AP)

In June, Match.com posted a TikTok to its UK account featuring a woman’s voice saying, “Things that make him realize I’m a keeper.” The video showed a woman giving a man a protein shake while he sat on the couch and arranging fresh towels and socks for him. A viewer reported the post to the country’s advertising regulator for sexism and for promoting negative gender stereotypes. Today, the regulator declared that Match‘s video was not, in fact, a keeper.

On Wednesday, the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority, or ASA, an independent regulator that enforces the country’s ad rules, agreed with the complainant and said Match.com’s TikTok video “perpetuated negative gender stereotypes and was likely to cause harm and widespread offense.” With its ruling, the ASA rejected the dating app’s argument that the video aimed to highlight “small genuine acts of kindness within a relationship.”

ASA prohibited Match.com from showing the video ad in its current form and told the company to ensure it did not “portray sexist or negative gender stereotypes in future marketing communications.”

“We considered that the longevity of the gestures implied that they were not one-off acts of kindness but were indistinguishable from chores. We also considered that the voice-over highlighted that the actions were done for the benefit of the man, not the woman,” the regulator wrote. “Given that, and in the absence of any reciprocal gestures by the man, we considered that the woman was shown to prioritize her partner’s needs over her own.”

Match.com pulled the ad from TikTok, although the company said in a statement that it did not believe it had violated any rules. Gizmodo reached out to Match.com multiple times on Wednesday for comment on the ASA’s ruling but did not receive a response.

ASA too pointed out that the title of Match.com’s ad, “Things that make him realize I’m a keeper,” was problematic when viewed in the context shown in the video. The title, the regulator pointed out, “reinforced the idea that women should be subservient to men in order to maintain a successful relationship.”

In its defense, the online dating company explained that the idea behind the TikTok ad was to show that small gestures between couples were “integral” to successful relationships. Match.com pointed out that the video featured real couples, which were enlisted to make a video by its advertising agency, and that the individuals had not been given a script.

In addition, Match.com said that the TikTok video under scrutiny was only one of a three-part campaign. A second video in the campaign, titled “Things that make me realize he’s a keeper,” focused on gestures carried out by the man for the woman. Meanwhile, the third video, “Small gestures we do for each other that make me realize he’s a keeper” featured actions carried out by both parties.

Since the third TikTok videos were all published on the same day, Match.com maintained that watching all three one after the other would offer viewers a balanced and reciprocal view of the featured couple’s relationship, according to the ASA ruling.

Nevertheless, the company did appear to admit in a very small voice that the video in question could send the wrong message.

“Match.com conceded that the ad, when viewed in isolation, did not convey the full story of the couple’s relationship. However, they asserted their belief that the content of the ad did not cause serious or widespread offense,” ASA wrote. “They said that, whilst the gestures carried out by the woman in the ad could be deemed by some to be overly gender typical, they focused on featuring a diverse group of couples in their marketing communications and that the gestures presented in the ad were authentic to that couple and reflected their genuine relationship.”



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