Art-World Hookup: OkCupid Hired Artist Maurizio Cattelan to Create Its First-Ever Ad Campaign

Are you DTF? That is, "down to frolic among the tulips," or perhaps "down to find a mate who loves to laugh?" Read on if you're down to find out.

An OkCupid ad shot by Maurizio Cattelan and Pierpaolo Ferrari.

Fake profiles. Graphic, unsolicited photos. Ghosting. There are plenty of problems plaguing online dating, but OkCupid, one of the giants of the industry, is now luring you to shop for soulmates with a new, art-world-inspired come-on: The company has enlisted artist Maurizio Cattelan and collaborator Pierpaolo Ferrari to create its first-ever ad campaign.

The Italian duo founded agency and eponymous magazine Toiletpaper, known for its surrealist imagery. They’ve also scored high marks in the design world; their photos and illustrations have shown up in such august publications as Vice, New York and the New York Times.

An OkCupid ad shot by Maurizio Cattelan and Pierpaolo Ferrari.

An OkCupid ad shot by Maurizio Cattelan and Pierpaolo Ferrari.

In keeping with the duo’s playful spirit, the new ads aim to reclaim one of youth culture’s most beloved initialisms, “DTF” (which, for those of you not living on planet Earth, is used to describe a person as “down to fuck”).

The idea of the campaign is to replace the invitation to sex in “DTF” with other, non-sexual interests and activities: for the generous, “DTFoot the bill,” or for the literary, “DTFinish my novel.” The politically pugnacious might prefer “DTFight about the president” (though OkCupid celebrated Valentine’s Day 2017 by offering users a way to filter out Trump supporters, to avoid just such debates).

Each colorful ad is illustrated with a silly image against a flat, bright-hued background. For “DTFoot the bill,” a pair of actual feet exchange a C-note; for arguing about Trump, a pair of hands prepare to thumb-wrestle in a wee boxing ring. Look out for the promos on billboards and other outdoor venues as well as in the subways in New York (where OkCupid is headquartered). Advertising titan Weiden + Kennedy New York developed the campaign; the company also lists clients such as Airbnb, Coca-Cola, KFC, and Procter & Gamble.

An OkCupid ad shot by Maurizio Cattelan and Pierpaolo Ferrari.

An OkCupid ad shot by Maurizio Cattelan and Pierpaolo Ferrari.

Cattelan supposedly called it a day with his 2012 Guggenheim retrospective, but in 2017, his installation America—consisting of a functioning toilet cast in 18-karat gold—went on view in the same museum. Among his most notable earlier works were a sculpture of a diminutive Adolf Hitler kneeling in prayer; a life-size sculpture showing Pope John Paul II, felled by a meteorite; and a rendition of John F. Kennedy in a coffin, his head intact but missing his socks and shoes.

Founded by a quartet of Harvard graduates in 2004, OkCupid sold to Barry Diller’s IAC/InterActiveCorp in 2011 for some $50 million. The company says that 57 million people have browsed the site since its founding and that today, there are 1.5 million active users. OkCupid proudly proclaims that it was the first to expand options for gender (there are currently 22) and orientation (there are 13).

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