If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! This cliché was not the wisdom that eHarmony.com chose to follow when it ended its largely successful ad campaign to adopt something else. And yet its gamble also has been successful.

eHarmony.com is best known for its televised advertisements, showing real couples who describe how they fell in love and met through the matchmaking site. This advertising resonated with many consumers and increased site usage. The theme was so well known that Saturday Night Live even parodied it. There was no problem with awareness, and the advertising campaign was widely considered a great success.

In 2008, eHarmony.com threw it out and started over. Some people at the company thought the campaign was not authentic enough and too superficial, because it flashed too many couples onscreen in a short period of time. Although many people knew about the company’s ads and service, these members thought they could do better by making their message more authentic.

In the new ads, only one couple talks in depth about their love story and connection. To test the ad, the company started airing versions inCanada, with positive analytics in response. The most important research involved talking to a few actual consumers and getting their response to the ads. On the basis of its Canadian research, the company proceeded with a launch of theU.S.campaign.

The new ads represented a natural progression for viewers who were familiar with eHarmony and its offer. In addition, the new spots increased the emotional connection for customers and encouraged more people to use the site. Many viewers love the stories and can relate or want to relate to the love that the people on TV have found. The ads appear authentic and foster greater trust between customers and the company.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What was wrong with the first campaign?
  2. Why did eHarmony.com decide to redevelop its ad campaign?

Brittany Hite, “Deciding to Ditch a Successful Ad Campaign,” The Wall Street Journal, February 23, 2009.