“Well-built men in short-shorts will be covered in loads of chocolate and transformed into luscious presents”
Shopaman’s intentions were made clear in the invitation to the online dating site’s Berlin pop-up store – which included lines such as “well-built men in short-shorts will be covered in loads of chocolate and transformed into luscious presents”. And last night’s event served up exactly that – several almost-naked men and an abundance of female journalists, who were invited to make chocolate moulds of the men’s “best angle”.
The launch event and concept might be a bit much for some to stomach: the new online dating site, from Affinitas GmbH, the parent company of eDarling, uses the framework and design of online shopping and applies it to dating, aiming squarely at a female audience by turning men into “products”, which women can put in their shopping baskets and “buy”.
While the site’s appeal to women makes sense, why men are using it remains a bit of a mystery. They are not allowed to contact any women and must wait passively to be “shopped” before they can communicate with women. However, co-founder Lukas Brosseder claims the men on site are just as excited by the concept as the women, with Shopaman attracting over 200,000 users and a fairly even gender balance.
Breaking the (chocolate) mould of objectification
Brosseder does admit that there has been some backlash from men who feel objectified and resent their lack of say in the dating game, plus the fee they are required to pay (the site is free for women). However, he also feels that the competitive spirit of the website, which ranks men against one other – showing, for example, their popularity compared to other male users of the site based on the number of women who want to “buy” them, acts as motivation for the men to improve their profiles and gain more clicks.
The site began in 2011 under the name of betterDate, before being relaunched in November 2012 with the Shopaman logo and a revised concept. For now, the dating site is focusing on the German market, though expansion is on the cards via the networks that partner website eDarling has built throughout Europe. Brosseder wants to be careful with launching in different countries though, as he can see that the concept may not work in more conservative markets.
For now, the tongue-in-cheek dating site will most likely continue generating controversy by hosting PR stunts like last night’s and including cheeky phrases on the website, which invite users to continue as a woman and “grab a shopping basket”, or as a man and “become a product”. One thing is for sure, Shopaman offers a fresh take on online dating and might just lure more women online.
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