Tinder says it clocked a 400% increase in downloads in India last year, and it opened an office in New Delhi. The dating app clearly sees opportunity in India, and it posted a video to build buzz this month.
But the short film is not what people generally expect from Tinder: A tender mother-daughter chat ends with the mom cheerfully approving of her daughter's Tinder date.
The film has more than 510,000 views on Facebook, but people have slammed it on social media, saying it seems more like a brand campaign for a matrimonial service.
The head of Tinder in India, Taru Kapoor, says: "Our intention was to start a conversation about the future of dating in India. We're seeing increased adoption on the app and more importantly, a cultural shift towards openness when discussing the topic of dating and relationships. We believe that we need to start having open conversations and debates to address existing stereotypes and talk more openly about dating and relationships."
Tinder did not disclose whether an agency created the ad.
In the industry, the video sparked discussion on whether it was effective to "Indianize" Tinder's message.
Nisha Singhania, co-founder of creative agency Infectious, says that "youth may not go on Tinder if it becomes parent-approved."
"It is designed to be a dating app and not a matrimony app, so let it be one," she said. "India is changing but not to an extent where mothers are fine with their daughters going for a date via Tinder."
Saket Vaidya, SVP and regional head for north India at Leo Burnett Group's Indigo Consulting, says Tinder is trying to legitimatize its use in a society where women face a lot of restrictions on dating. And he says the video might be targeted at people outside India's big cities, where Tinder's next users will come from.
Apps promising secure and meaningful relationships "are getting popular, and actually Tinder is late in advertising to counter them, which might have cost the brand its market share in areas beyond metros," he said.
This article was adapted from a story for Ad Age India, written by Devesh Gupta.