Arun Sudhaman 18 Sep 2014 // 7:53AM GMT
BANGKOK—Controversial adultery website Ashley Madison is stepping up its search for PR support in Asia, as it considers launching in Thailand.
The Holmes Report understands that the global hook up site has contacted PR firms in Thailand regarding a potential launch in the country, after previously seeing its attempts to enter South Korea and Singapore blocked.
The Asian countries in which Ashley Madison currently operates are Japan, Taiwan and Hong Kong. Paul Keable, VP of communications at the Ashley Madison parent company Avid Life, confirmed the Thai search but denied that the company had firm plans to launch in the country.
"Our search is part of a broader communications effort to find potential PR partners in Asia, as it is a unique marketplace for us," said Keable. 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."
Ashley Madison conducted a similar search in Singapore, but struggled to find a PR firm who would take on the business in that market. Thai PR industry sources noted that the company would face similar challenges in Thailand, where it is likely to be banned.
"The current Thai government is highly conservative," said the head of one Thai PR firm. "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."
While Ashley Madison has fallen foul of social concerns in South Korea and Singapore, Keable believes the company's prospects in the region are sound.
"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."
CEO Noel Biderman has said that the company will "find a way" to bring the site to the Phillipines and Thailand, noting that the region was neither "too conservative" nor "too challenging."
Ashley Madison, which goes by the slogan 'Life is Short. Have an affair' currently has more than 28.5m users worldwide.