Dating service execs turned to Picture Shack for doc-style ads

Dating can be a scary situation, so it’s only fitting that the producers of “Paranormal State” and “The Haunted” are behind dating service Match.com’s latest ad campaign.

Naturally, Match isn’t looking to promote the potential horrors of a first date. Instead it turned to Picture Shack Entertainment, the New York-based production shingle also behind such reality TV shows as A&E’s “Psychic Kids” and MTV’s “Warren the Ape,” to document real first dates for a series of spots.

Match executives wanted to utilize the same kind of reality filming techniques Picture Shack is known for in its shows to make its ads seem more authentic and give potential customers a sense of what the company actually offers. The ad effort launched with six couples going on their first date. Another batch has started airing, comprising nine more couples.

Picture Shack treated the spots like one of its reality productions.

“This is very documentary,” says George Plamondon, who runs Picture Shack with Betsy Schechter and has also directed episodes of MTV’s unscripted series “Laguna Beach.”

“We wanted the couples to feel as comfortable as possible,” so they are interviewed before and after the dates, then filmed while on the date from afar.

“Initially we thought it was a bit experimental, but we saw the beauty of it early on,” Plamondon says. “Things are said on first dates that are universal and that you can’t script. Everyone’s been there.”

The dates are keeping the campaign fresh, with Picture Shack able to cut a number of spots from one date or simply film an additional date for fresh material at any given time, and for far less money than a traditional scripted ad may cost to produce. In fact, Picture Shack has produced 40 spots from the 15 dates it’s filmed so far.

It’s also able to produce them even faster because Match works directly with Picture Shack, rather than through an advertising agency.

The spots were Picture Shack’s first foray into commercials work, outside of a short film for Glamour magazine that starred Kristin Chenoweth.

“It was a totally new business for us,” Plamondon says. “But because they wanted to do it as a documentary, it’s still storytelling.”

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