The inside story of Tinder's decision to send two users on a Hawaiian first date

Tinder's head of marketing and communications, Rosette Pambakian, dishes on the strategy behind the dating app's attention-grabbing idea.

WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA: Kent State University students Michelle Arendas and Josh Avsec matched in 2014 on Tinder, but never met in real life. However, they did sarcastically send sporadic messages to each other with lame excuses for why it took so long to reply.

After many (intentional) missed connections, Avsec tweeted screenshots of the conversations he’s had with Arendas, showing how long it took for them to text each other back. Media outlets including BuzzFeed covered the banter.

When Tinder head of marketing and communications Rosette Pambakian saw the news about the couple, she knew it was too good of an opportunity to pass up.

"It was so funny that for three years this conversation kept going, and we thought it was amazing they maintained this relationship on the platform," Pambakian said of her team’s initial reaction. "But we are all about getting people together in real life in the real world, so we thought we would get them together."

Tinder’s marketing team is full of engaged millennials who are social media pros, noted Pambakian. The brand’s first response to Avsec’s tweet came three days later.

After the tweet, Tinder knew it had to go to another level, Pambakian said. An hour later, the dating app tweeted again at Avsec and Arendas, telling them they had 24 hours to choose a spot for their first date.

For once, the pair replied quickly, picking Maui as the destination.


"[There] wasn’t a lot of intense thought" that went into the idea, said Pambakian, who added that the company decided to "jump in with the rest of the world." It did not conduct any background research on Arendas or Avsec before making its offer.

"Because of their experience with Tinder, we knew they were ideal people for us to do this with," she added. "They were using the app the way it was intended: to have fun and create a relationship. There wasn’t any coaching."

It wasn’t until after inviting them to pick a location for their first date that Tinder representatives had an offline conversation with Arendas or Avsec.

"They were surprised to see the conversation went so viral and that so many people were genuinely interested," said Pambakian of how initial talks went.

Outlets that have covered Tinder’s campaign include People, The Sun, HuffPost, USA Today, and Today. M Booth, Tinder’s PR AOR, has been fielding media inquiries.

"We’ve been getting media requests from around the world with requests to interview us and the couple and hear more about this," said Pambakian. "It hasn’t been a difficult story to peddle at all."

Tinder’s top priority is sending the couple to Hawaii and making sure they have an amazing time, she added. The itinerary is still being planned, but Pambakian said the official date will probably take place within the next month. Local companies and organizations, such as the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau, have reached out via Twitter to get involved, but Tinder has not yet partnered with any groups.

"This is a great example of not realizing how moving your experience can be to people around the world until you share it," said Pambakian. "We want people to share their unique, fun Tinder experiences with us. I love these positive stories to be highlighted and give people on Tinder hope that great things can happen."

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