THE WASHINGTON POST -- May 16 -- A name-calling catfight, complete with accusations and counter-accusations, has broken out between eHarmony.com (13 million registrants since 2000) and an offshoot of Match.com over a subject familiar to any luckless dater. Rejection. Chemistry's (2 million registrants since 2006) TV commercials and magazine ads feature young men and women wondering why their applications to join eHarmony were turned down. No fair, says eHarmony, concerned that its rival's ads suggest that eHarmony is being arbitrary or discriminatory in turning people away. It wants Chemistry.com's ads changed or dropped. eHarmony’s legal counsel, Lanny Davis (who spun the media for President Bill Clinton during his “relationship problems” with Monica Lewinsky), last week asked NBC and People magazine to stop running Chemistry.com's current ads, or at least insist on some fine-print qualifiers about what “1 million rejected” really means. (As of Friday, NBC hadn't responded to Davis; People magazine said that it wasn't taking sides in the feud and that it would continue running the ads.) eHarmony turns people away for controversial reasons. One is being gay. CEO, Greg Waldorf says eHarmony's matching system is based on psychological research about heterosexual relationships. Because it doesn't have similar data on gay people, he says, the company isn't confident that it can offer successful matches to same-sex couples. “I'm not saying anything precludes us from going into the same-sex market in the future,” he says, “but it's not a service we offer now.” Firing back, eHarmony accuses Chemistry's parent company of hypocrisy. It notes that IAC made formal overtures to buy eHarmony in 2004, but a deal never came off.
Mark Brooks: These days the best kind of advertising spawns press, word-of-mouth, and riles up the competition. Match.com has kicked off on every level with their campaign. This year we should surely see a free version of eharmony startup. Perhaps the fresh faced (new) Mary.com or LTR.com, or the current dominant free dating market leader PlentyofFish.com. Beyond that, MyPartnerPerfect.com is due to launch shortly as the quality, long term focused, personality profiling, all gay matchmaking site, headed by the young Patrick H.Perrine.