eHarmony Tube advert banned over 'fake' claim about finding love

Robin De Peyer
Banned: the advert was seen on the London Underground network: PA

An advert on the Tube network claiming an online dating service used a “scientifically proven” system to help people find love has been banned.

Billboards on the London Underground in July read: “Step aside, fate. It’s time science had a go at love.”

But the claim by eHarmony was slapped down by the advertising watchdog which concluded that it was misleading.

The dating service said that it “respectfully disagrees” with the Advertising Standards Authority’s ruling, but pledged to make its campaigns “as clear as possible”.

The website could not offer evidence that its customers had a better chance of finding love, despite the advert reading: “Imagine being able to stack the odds of finding lasting love entirely in your favour.”

The complaint was triggered by Lord Lipsey, the joint chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Statistics, who formerly served as a member of the ASA council.

“Phrases like 'scientifically proven' should be confined to claims that are just that, not used in crude puffery designed to lure in those longing for love,” he said.

“This is a new form of fake news which the ASA has rightly slapped down."

EHarmony believed consumers would interpret the ad to mean that its scientific approach using algorithms could potentially work for them, and not that it would guarantee they would find lasting love or make connections.

The ASA said consumers would interpret the claim "scientifically proven matching system" to mean that scientific studies had found that the website offered users a significantly greater chance of finding lasting love than what could be achieved if they did not use the service.

The ASA said consumers would interpret the claim "scientifically proven matching system" to mean that scientific studies had found that the website offered users a significantly greater chance of finding lasting love than what could be achieved if they did not use the service.

It noted that neither of the studies provided by eHarmony revealed anything about the overall percentage of its users who had found lasting love after using the website compared to other sources.

Therefore, neither study provided insight into the likelihood of the website finding users lasting love compared to users who did not use the service.

The ASA said: "Because the evidence provided by eHarmony did not demonstrate that their matching system offered users a significantly greater chance of finding lasting love than what could be achieved if they didn't use the service, we concluded that the claim 'scientifically proven matching system' was misleading."

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