An eHarmony ad that claimed the brand’s ‘scientifically proven matching system decodes the mystery of compatibility and chemistry’ has been banned by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), following a complaint that the terminology of ‘science’ was misleading in the context of a dating system.
The single complainant, who the BBC reports to be the joint chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Statistics, Lord Lipsey, said he believed ‘it was not possible to hold scientific proof about a dating system’ and challenged that for that reason, the London Underground poster was misleading.
eHarmony countered that the definition of ‘science’ is something that is "based on or characterised by the methods or principles of science". The company said that the poster ad did not make any specific claims, other than the fact the matching system it uses was scientific when compared to meeting a partner in real life.
The brand added that while it hoped the science claims (based on a patented algorithmic matching of personality traits) would draw the lovelorn to eHarmony, it “did not believe that consumers would interpret the ad to mean that it would guarantee they would find lasting love or make connections”.
Nevertheless, the ASA upheld the complaint in breach of misleading advertising, substantiation and exaggeration. The authority stated additional evidence provided by eHarmony did not sufficiently demonstrate that its matching system offered users a significantly greater chance of finding lasting love when compared to looking for it elsewhere.
The ad, which was seen on 4 July 2017, must not appear again in its current form. The brand has been told to avoid similar ‘scientific’ claims until it had more substantive evidence on the guaranteed efficacy of its service.