Want to cheat on your partner? Then the online dating service Ashley Madison is the perfect place for you. Since it arrived in Brazil 15 months ago, the website has attracted one million lusty Brazilians, turning this South American country of 194 million people into one of the biggest markets for the Canadian company.
Created 10 years ago, Ashley Madison and its slogan: Life is short. Have an affair, is now present in 24 countries, with eight million members in the United States and six million in Canada. But Brazil has seen the firm's most explosive growth in terms of number of clients -- 70 per cent of whom are men -- and in money spent to finance the temptations the site offers.
"Brazilians have a very strong propensity for pleasure, sex and fun," said Eduardo Borges, the company's representative in this body-conscious country famous for its exuberant samba dancing and carnival. "Add to this a fascination for technology, for communicating and meeting other people," he noted. The country has around 80 million Internet users and is among world leaders in the use of social networks such as Facebook and Twitter. This provides a combination which, according to Borges, does not promote infidelity but offers alternatives to practise it in a 'proper manner'. Know-how is precisely the basis for Ashley Madison's marketing appeal, including references to famous cases of infidelity such as those of former US president Bill Clinton and Prince Charles.
"We started in Brazil in late August 2011. I expected 500,000 subscribers in a year, but we got more than 800,000. And we are going to close 2012 with more than one million, a much bigger growth than what we anticipated," Borges added. With 17 million subscribers worldwide, the website will gross $120 million this year, but Borges would not say how much is generated in Brazil. "Brazil is our second largest market in terms of income," he said, adding that before the end of the year, the company hopes to open an office in Sao Paulo, the first outside Canada.
"Brazil is the apple of our eye," he added. There are many other leading dating sites in Brazil such as eHarmony or Second Love. Ashley Madison was created with women in mind. They do not pay to subscribe or make contacts with men, who are the ones who must pay to send emails, chat messages, draw hearts or use other techniques of virtual seduction. Its business model is based on credits rather than monthly subscriptions. For a conversation between two members, one of the members must pay five credits to initiate the conversation. Any follow-up messages between the two members are free after the communication has been initiated.
A pack of 100 credits, which allows a man to contact 20 women on average, costs $25. Bare chest pictures, faces with piercing looks, adjectives such as "sensitive and affectionate, creative and adventurous," anything goes. "Send me a picture?" said one subscriber named "Guto" when contacted by AFP. He claimed to have been married for 21 years, said he joined the site in March and bought 4,000 credits.
"I spent more than I wanted, but I got a few contacts. So far I have had two cases of casual sex, pretty good experiences," he crowed. To mark its first year in Brazil, Ashley Madison launched "Lover guaranteed", a program offering the money back guarantee of an affair. "So far no one has asked for their money back," said Borges. David Benoliel, the company's vice-president for Latin America, said acceptance in the region has been amazing "despite many social and religious taboos".
Company officials see infidelity as the perfect recipe to save marriage from boredom. "If there is something missing in your marriage but you do not want a divorce, here we have what you are looking for," Borges insisted.