ATLANTA: The NBA’s Atlanta Hawks have brought on Ashley Madison – three real-life people named Ashley Madison, that is – as spokespeople to promote the team’s 10-game flex plans for this upcoming season.
The three new "celebrity spokespeople" – two women and one man – are each Georgia residents. Aside from sharing a name with the adultery website, the campaign has no relationship with the recently hacked online dating service that helps people cheat on their spouses.
"We wanted to play on what was going on with Ashley Madison’s [breach], because we aim to be relevant and topical in our communications with fans," Atlanta Hawks CEO Steve Koonin told PRWeek about the campaign that launched on Friday. "We are targeting a young ticket buyer and inviting them to start their season-ticket relationship with a 10-game package, so the idea of starting your love affair with the Atlanta Hawks is what spawned the Ashley Madison idea."
The Hawks have also released an ad featuring "the real Ashley Madison" encouraging people to start a love affair with the team.
It has also set up a dedicated "luv line" giving fans directions on how to purchase packages and sent out a release about the campaign including the hashtag #HAWKLUV.
Koonin said the digital element of the campaign will be "extensive" and hinted there will be more videos and "a few surprises."
Ashley Madison’s reputation took a hit this summer after hackers exposed users’ identities and sensitive information. Because of this, Koonin said the marketing team did consider the risks that could come with using its brand in the campaign.
"We looked at all sides of it, but at the end of the day, we thought it was a fun, tongue-in-cheek, playful idea," he explained. "We thought it was appropriate and safe to do. We are not telling people how to live their lives; we just want them to start a love affair with us."
Koonin added that the Hawks have not been in touch with (the website) Ashley Madison about the campaign’s concept, and have not yet received any comments from the company about it since launching the campaign on Friday morning.
"Our spokespeople just happen to be named Ashley Madison, so they are as authentic as they can be," he said.
The campaign, including video production, was all created in-house.
The Hawks enjoyed a renaissance last season, going 60-22 in the regular season and winning the top seed in the Eastern Conference. However, the team was swept in the conference finals by the Cleveland Cavaliers.