Shopping for Love – The French Version of Retail Therapy

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In last week’s inbedwiththefrench blog, I wrote about Valentine’s Day in Paris. I posted a suggestive photo of a sexy lingerie model who was staring at me at one of my usual bus stops in this city. She was obviously a vivid suggestion for a lover’s gift item. Well, Valentine’s Day is over and, at this same bus stop, the almost-naked lady is gone. She has been replaced by a light-pink poster with a sketch figure of a woman pushing a shopping cart and a man falling into it.

Here's the latest bus stop advertisement.  No frills.
Here’s the latest bus stop advertisement. No frills.

No words, just the stick figures. An un-hip Parisian tourist might think it was a weird advertisement for some new kind of shopping experience. And, in a way, that is what it is – women are shopping…for love.

The poster is from “Adopte un Mec”, an online, love supermarket where women take the lead. This fresh, different “take” is actually very successful as an innovative dating site. It works like this: ladies go shopping and put a potential partner in their caddy, right next to the frozen peas and Special K. They use any of the multiple criteria that the site offers such as style, location, age, body-type, etc. This idea of “The Customer is Queen” looked like fun so I forgot about taking the bus and rushed home to join and adopt this new manhunt technique. Hope springs eternal, they say.

I expected this business-oriented approach to have been developed in the States or in Canada, but I was in for a surprise. “Adopte Un Mec” was started in France by two French citizens in their mid-thirties. It is a bit of a paradox given that Paris is the romance capital of the world. This practical, right-to-the-point, anything-but-romantic website does not seem French at all. The pink logo that was at the bus stop is now so famous here that no words are needed to explain what it is.

Adopte Un Mec's pop-up campaign in 2012.  A man "in the box".
Adopte Un Mec’s pop-up campaign in 2012. A man “in the box”.

“Adopte un Mec” translates into “Adopt a Guy” (or “Adopt a Dude” for the cool ladies). It went live in 2008; first in France but it now covers other French-speaking communities such as Belgium, Switzerland and Quebec and has just expanded to Spain and Italy. Eighteen million women have already shopped at “Adopte un Mec”, looking for a man to “cuddle”.   And I just joined the ranks.

If you are used to internet shopping, you will find this site incredibly easy to figure out. You have the “Daily Specials”; “New Items”; “Product Comparisons”. There are always men in stock – in whatever category you are interested in. They are divided into age groups; social categories; style sets. You can find pierced or tattooed ones; hairy or smooth; fat or skinny. It’s fun and it’s free for the ladies.

You can register in record time and start choosing. Once you have filled up your shopping cart with your wish list, you wait for the men to come to you. That’s when the real marketing starts. It’s the guy’s job to seduce, charm and convince you to “adopt” him – for a night, a week or a lifetime. You keep exchanging emails until you decide to see him – or not. If, any point you want to stop communicating to the dude, you can block him. Simple as that. Just put that loser back on the virtual shelf.

I wondered a bit about how the male “products” feel about being reduced to objects, even if they are objects of someone’s affection. I mean, there is nothing romantic about going to Walmart’s. The male line-up on the website could be compared to a police station line-up, except there are names instead of numbers marking each photo. However, no one has forced these guys to sign up – they are all volunteers – virtual volunteers in the commercial marketplace of love. They all look happy to be there.   And, I might add, since the site is not free for men, they have already invested something besides their time.

So ladies, if you’re looking for that incomparable French lover, go to

There's someone for everyone at this site.
There’s someone for everyone at this site.

www.adopteunmec.com and start your search. With just your basic high school French, you can contact your own personal Monsieur Right. But be careful, you just might turn into a shopaholic.

 

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