Interview: OkCupid CMO Melissa Hobley on Indian Expansion

Match Group announced outstanding Q2 earnings earlier this week, far surpassing analyst expectations with an 18% year-on-year revenue increase. The figures saw the dating umbrella’s market cap climb over 20%.

While much of the growth was driven by flagship property Tinder, OkCupid also saw fantastic success this quarter. 

The brand picked up 700,000 new downloads in India following a series of innovative marketing campaigns, helping the parent to execute its multifaceted Asia strategy and bring a new offering to the country’s fast-developing megacities.

Melissa Hobley is OkCupid’s first ever CMO, having previously held senior roles at Walgreens Boots Alliance and Buyology. She has led memorable campaigns including the controversial DTF promotion, which encouraged singles to redefine the acronym to suit their dating preferences and interests.

Global Dating Insights caught up with Hobley to find out more about OkCupid’s Indian expansion, and to learn some of the marketing secrets helping to drive the company forward.

Find the full interview below:

What have been some of the highlights at OkCupid over the past 12 months?

MH: “Our massive growth in India has been a huge accomplishment over the last year, and is exactly why we’re investing in our new campaign in India “Find My Kind”. We’re confident that as more people discover OkCupid in India with its promise of finding a meaningful relationship, we’ll be able to reach the single Indian audience that is looking for something REAL. 

We’ve seen significant growth on the app across markets, in India, the US and beyond. We’ve been able to do this not only by running our DTF campaign in key cities in the US and digitally, but also through our efforts to localize the product through our iconic questions. In national and international markets, we are constantly inserting new questions that are relevant to singles in those areas so they can match on the things that are important to them. The relevance of those questions is obvious when you look at how India has responded to these questions and the connections it has resulted in.“

You’re all set to launch a major brand campaign in India. What can you tell us about the activations we’ll be seeing?

MH: “We are thrilled to launch our first 360-degree campaign in India – ‘Find My Kind’ – a conceptual take that reflects Indian millennials’ changing preference to find ‘my’ kind vs ‘others’ kind. Aimed at an informed generation to whom freedom of choice is non-negotiable, the campaign overturns decades of patriarchal values and rigid gender roles with thoughtfulness and quirk. The integrated campaign highlights the importance of personal agency at a time when Indians are increasingly confident in taking control of their decisions.

India has a tradition of ’matrimonial listings’ in newspapers. These are often regressive, demanding beauty and housekeeping skills from women and the means to afford a family from a man as the only qualifications. With ‘Find My Kind’ we question these reductive standards by running an outdoor campaign and placing quirky contextual inserts on matrimonial pages of mainline newspapers. While bringing focus on matching over what matters, the ads also highlight the difference in approach to partnership between millennials and their families. 

The TVC covers major national channels with a particular focus on English entertainment and movie channels. To build resonance with the digital generation, OkCupid has worked with a variety of content creators and social influencers who spoke about the relevance of individual choice in their own lives.”

OkCupid’s ‘Find My Kind’ Campaign

When moving into a new global market, what are the key things for brands to consider? 

MH: “It is extremely important to understand your key demo there – their thoughts, beliefs, values, culture – as one market is never the same as the next. As we enter new markets around the world, we’re extremely conscious of getting close to the market – talking to locals, conducting research, understanding the needs and desires of singles there. While our core features, such as our questions, are key to maintaining our mission, we can cater them to each market to ensure that our users – no matter where they live – get the most out of our product.”

Can you tell us anything about the new OkCupid collaboration with Mekanism in the US? 

MH: “In the US, we recently partnered with Mekanism to help us develop the next campaign. Their team is solid and have been known in the industry for the work they do which is bold and stands out in the crowd. We are very excited to work with them and we can’t wait to share what we have been working on.” 

Outside of dating, what’s one brand you really admire as a marketer?

MH: “The first name that comes to mind is Dame – maybe because they’ve taken a page out of our book! Earlier this year, the MTA disapproved one of our DTF ads that came across as political – and so we put that same ad on a billboard right outside of a subway entrance! 

Similarly, Dame’s advertisements for their female-friendly sex toys were not approved (while Hims, which offers similar products for men, were) so they’ve actually sued the MTA. We’ve seen a great response to our subway ads in the past, so it’s important that great brands are allowed to advertise their products.”

Visit the OkCupid website here

Scott Harvey

Scott is the Editor of Global Dating Insights. Raised in Dorset, he holds a BA from The University of Nottingham and an MSc from Lund University School of Economics and Management. Previously he has written about politics, economics and technology for various online publications.

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