OkCupid's First Ad Campaign Is Down to Focus On More Than Just Hookups
MIKE O'DONNELL / EDITOR
OkCupid has been taking their brand to the next level, enlisting some standout WNW Members to show why it's different from other dating platforms. First, OkCupid brought on Berlin-based WNW Member Jay Daniel Wright to enliven the app with a whole new identity, which included a stable of whimsical icons. Now, for their first advertising campaign, the in-house creative team worked alongside Wieden+Kennedy and the duo behind Toilet Paper Magazine. The results are a striking campaign that repurposes the acronym DTF, stripping it of its hook-up meaning. Down to fuck? More like down to finish my novel, fire up the kiln, and foot the bill. And sure, maybe also the original F too. As long as you take breaks to fight about the president and focus on your chakras.
Below, we interview WNW Members Dana Davis, Designer at OkCupid and Jessica Shriftman, Wieden+Kennedy Art Director. As Dana tells us, "The DTF campaign is a great extension of OkCupid’s mission to focus on substance and depth -- and to reflect back on the issues and passions that people care about." The resulting campaign is a true, collaborative effort. And Dana and Jessica have nothing but positive things to say about all sides and their metaphorical "balls." As Jessica tells us, "The in-house team at OkCupid is comprised of rad and nice human beings (with big balls). A lot of clients will ask for provocative work and then run for the “advertising hills” when it's presented to them. To their immense credit, the OkCupid team didn’t so much as blink." If you're DTfind out more, read on. And shout-out to WNW Members Rob Engvall and Frank DeRose for their excellent work as Designers on this campaign.
Jessica, do you and copywriter Ian Hart work together on a lot of projects? What do you like most about your joint creative process and output?
Jessica Shriftman (W+K): Yes! Ian and I have been partners for a couple of years off and on at W+K – they like to switch teams up every now and then. Some of the work we’re most proud to have created together (apart from this OkCupid campaign) is Equinox’s Commitment Collection, the Equinox LGBTQAlphabet and the Delta Dating Wall. We’ve actually known each other since our BBH days but we only paired up at Wieden. Regarding process, when it comes to brainstorming, being comfortable in the silence of the room or being able to say bad ideas to get to the good ones is huge – I’m glad we have that. I think we are still super passionate about advertising and doing good work together – we haven’t “checked out” yet, as they say – so we’re always looking for ways to take so-so briefs and make them great.
How did the Toilet Paper magazine creators and W+K team get involved? What was it about their respective reputations that excited you & OkCupid about bringing them on?
Dana Davis (OkCupid): Wieden + Kennedy is such an amazing agency. We knew we wanted their help in developing the campaign, and they were the ones who came to us with the idea of working with the renowned duo Maurizio Cattelan and Pierpaolo Ferrari. It was so exciting to work with them all because everyone was dedicated to our mission of conveying the great parts of dating that all daters deserve. Cattelan and Ferrari's playful aesthetic also compliments our brand's off-beat personality, and the humor and whimsy in their work is well-aligned with our brand voice.
Were you excited by the “DTF” brief right off the bat? It seems like the kind of launchpad that practically begs you to get loose and have fun…
Jessica: The brief for the campaign was actually not DTF at all. It was super simple: establish a unique positioning for OkCupid and do so in a provocative manner. So it was a great brief. DTF was one of a handful of ideas we presented that resonated from the onset. DTF was a word that one of our clients Melissa casually dropped in the initial briefing when she was talking about some of the people on other apps. It was a word that was sticky and we immediately wondered how we could twist it.
What was the key concept behind OkCupid’s “DTF” campaign?
Dana: The DTF campaign is a great extension of OkCupid’s mission to focus on substance and depth -- and to reflect back on the issues and passions that people care about.
In the current political and social climate, we felt a responsibility and saw an opportunity to play a part in changing the conversation about dating culture, and empowering each individual to reclaim the meaning of DTF and make it theirs. This campaign is a visual extension of our mission: we want the people who see it to feel empowered by our brand promise, and to take the chance to define for themselves what they want from dating.
What was it like working with the OkCupid in-house team and the creators of Toilet Paper Magazine?
Jessica: To be honest with you, we have nothing but awesome things to say about Maurizio and Pierpaolo. They were not only super friendly, they were incredibly collaborative, fast, open and, frankly, excited. They made the set a really fun atmosphere – stopping for silly little breaks like throwing the clients onto the set and photographing them. They work very fast and are very open to trying suggestions. We went into the shoot hoping to capture 10 ideas and we left with 17. We’ve worked with other photographers before who have been more precious or had sterner set environments, so this was certainly refreshing and you can see the fun they create on set in their work.
The in-house team at OkCupid is comprised of rad and nice human beings (with big balls). A lot of clients will ask for provocative work and then run for the “advertising hills” when it's presented to them. To their immense credit, the OkCupid team didn’t so much as blink. They asked for work that pushed the boundaries a bit (or more than a bit) … and then when it was presented to them, they we're on board. It was amazingly refreshing and exciting. 'Filter out the far right' was a line that actually came from them -- we give them a lot of credit for always being so brave and willing to stand out in the sea of same.
By the end of the shoot, I think it’s safe to say we got pretty close – there’s actually a photo that the photographers took on set of one of our clients Melissa holding me up in her arms the same exact way that the “fall head over heels” women are.
What were some of the challenges and breakthroughs with this project?
Jessica: I would say the language barrier was a minor challenge but one that we were able to overcome. We did a handful of Skype video chats, which was a different way of working for us and we even had a coworker of ours help translate Italian with the retoucher once. We had a breakthrough with this project when we began to craft the concept and took it from a typography-only execution to a photography-paired-with-type execution. Our Head of Production, Deb Rosen, introduced us to Toilet Paper magazine’s bold style and we immediately saw how it could up the creative even more.
Which of the resulting DTFs are you proudest of and why?
Dana: The lesbian rendition of "DTFall Head Over Heels " could be considered the hero shot of the campaign -- like all the pieces in this campaign, it is fearless and unexpected. "DTFight About the President" and "DTFilter out the Far Right” are obvious favorites as well. Our brand is not afraid to take a political stance and address substantive issues in our current climate that extend beyond the realm of dating.
Jessica: I think I’d say “DTFall Head Over Heels” with the two women is definitely a proud moment. We knew it was important to include couples of every sexual orientation and race and we were so thrilled that the client truly agreed. “DTFight About the President” also feels like a small victory, particularly since the blue thumb is covering the red. Not sure we are the proudest of this next one, but “DTFootball vs. Fútbol” is fun, because when else in our careers can we stick a penis joke in there in a sophisticated way?
How has OkCupid’s company personality evolved over the years to match the changes in how people use technology to date?
Dana: We’re proud that OkCupid -- in our ability to constantly add questions to the OkCupid user experience -- is one of the only dating apps that truly reflects back the tough and taboo conversations that play out in the real world. For instance, we introduced a Trump question filter during election season so that people could match with people who were against (or for) Trump.
Has your work at OkCupid supplied you with some quality dating advice? Any quick tips you'd like to share with our members?
Dana: We get it—dating is hard! But our best advice is to be confident in yourself and know your worth; know what you're down to do, and make it clear to others. But in a more specific sense, there are things you can do on OkCupid to help present the best version of yourself: upload clear photos of yourself doing things you enjoy, fill out your profile honestly, answer lots of questions to improve your match percentage with people, and send thoughtful messages. Basically -- treat people online the same way you do in person, with respect.
Can you share any DTFs that didn’t make the final cut?
Jessica: Ha ha, sure. “DTFerment Kimchi” and “DTForage for Chanterelles.”