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Ashley Madison in PR agency talks ahead of potential launch in Thailand

Ashley Madison logoAshley Madison, the controversial dating website that specialises in hooking up people who are already married, is looking for a PR agency ahead of a potential launch in Thailand, the Holmes Report is reporting.

Paul Keable, VP of communications at the parent company for Ashley Madison – which was blocked from entering Singapore and Korea last year – confirmed the agency search but said the site had no firm plans to launch in the Kingdom.

“Our search is part of a broader communications effort to find potential PR partners in Asia, as it is a unique marketplace for us,” Keable told The Holmes Report. “We currently do not have firm plans to launch AshleyMadison.com in Thailand, or any other Asian markets, at this time.”

“Given the challenges we have faced in other markets in the region, we are being proactive in sourcing qualified partners for when our plans may change,” he said.

The site may struggle to find a partner to work with if its search for a PR agency in Singapore is anything to go by. Before Ashley Madison’s move on Singapore was blocked, the firm was shunned by a number of agencies who said they would not represent the brand.

Sources have suggested to the Holmes Report that Ashley Madison would face a similar predicament in Thailand.

“The current Thai government is highly conservative,” the head of one Thai PR firm told the public relations industry journal. “They won’t approve of this one bit – and will certainly add it to their long list of banned web sites.

“But given the minimal investment to launch and sustain this business in Thailand, they have little to lose by trying. They may even pick up new customers in the region and globally if they can create a large enough media brouhaha in Thailand,” they said.

But Keable said that Ashley Madison was not losing traction in Asia.

“We have seen tremendous success in Asia, specifically in Japan, Taiwan and Hong Kong, so we know that there are receptive markets for our business in the region,” he said.

When Ashley Madison was banned from Singapore last year, founder Noel Biderman said that the ban, by the citystate’s media regulator, went against the “accepting and open-minded nature of Singapore and its diverse citizens”.

In an interview with Mumbrella in November last year, Biderman said the negative response to Ashley Madison is mostly because that “the site is designed for women and marketed at women.”

“The notion that women now have the same opportunities as men frightens some people. It’s a form of suppression of feminism that’s trying to come to life,” he said.

Ashley Madison – which has around 22 million users globally – has successfully launched in Hong Kong, Japan and Taiwan.

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