Tinder takes a swipe at Vanity Fair (and wins the Internet)

Those calling Tinder's Twitter rant a #PRFail are failing themselves to see its genius, writes Business Wire's Serena Ehrlich.

Earlier this month, Vanity Fair published "Tinder and the Dawn of the ‘Dating Apocalypse,’" a startling look at dating in the age of swipe.

The article showed how several New Yorkers used dating apps such as Tinder, OK Cupid, and Hinge to meet potential romantic partners and how the ease and prevalence of these apps have changed the dating scene.

The article is pretty raw – each person interviewed shared depressing stories of how relationships have been superseded by casual sex, each placing the blame on the shift in dating on apps. The writer, Nancy Jo Sales, interspersed dating-related statistics and horror stories with an overview of psychological and sociological changes to reiterate her point: dating apps have changed the way we date.

The article argues that we have moved from a society built on long-term, loving relationships to one fueled by one-night stands. It was met with a wide range of reactions. Many agreed with the article; many did not. But no reaction was more surprising than one Twitter account: that of Tinder.

On Tuesday night, Tinder, with more than 51,000 Twitter followers, attacked. 

In a puerile manner, Tinder took both Vanity Fair and Sales to task for misunderstanding Tinder users and not contacting the company directly for statistics related to its user base. While many of the 30-plus tweets had an almost childish tone to them, Tinder also brilliantly reiterated a marketing message that directly contradicted the facts presented in the piece. 

As expected, Twitter erupted. Many supported Tinder for taking a stand, tweeting and retweeting Tinder’s comments, while others chiding it for the unprofessional manner and tone of its tweets. 

And then something really interesting happened. Some of the most impactful media outlets in the startup, tech, and business industries started covering the drama. Huffington Post, Wired, Re/code, and NBC all wrote articles about the attack, featuring Tinder’s tweets -- Tinder’s tweets that contained Tinder’s positioning statements! How did this happen?

As it turns out, Tinder’s PR firm reached out to media outlets in advance of its epic, and for some, cringe-worthy, rant, alerting them to what was about to happen and suggesting they watch it unfold. This move was genius. 


  1. We’re talking about it, aren’t we? This move surprised many on Twitter, and social media users love to be surprised. This action generated conversations across the Web – people were no longer talking about Tinder the hook-up app but instead the hook-up culture in general, in effect moving the blame of the cultural shift from the app to those involved in it.
  2. Tinder got coverage. Wired? Re/code? This piece? Every article written on this topic extends Tinder’s reach and awareness.
  3. Tinder’s messaging was seen as loud and clear. The most interesting part about the coverage was how many of Tinder’s messages ended up being showcased in articles via embedded tweets.

On Tuesday night, Tinder took a swipe at Vanity Fair. The magazine did not suffer; it received a massive amount of attention and links to their piece. But the real winner of this battle was Tinder. Its epic rant resulted in valuable media coverage, discussions, and activities. With 30-plus tweets, Tinder dominated this fight.

Serena Ehrlich is director of social and evolving media at Business Wire.

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