One of OKCupid's "DTF" ads in Chicago the company says have been banned by several local agencies. Credit: OKCupid

Some local city agencies apparently aren’t DTF.

Or at the very least, they’re not cool with OKCupid using the casual sex acronym in a series of cheeky new ads (it stands for “down to fuck”). The popular dating site claims that its “DTFix Dating” campaign, introduced earlier this year in New York City, has been banned by the CTA, Chicago Park District, and O’Hare International Airport.

One ad, for example, features a man and woman in a pottery studio tenderly smearing clay onto each other’s faces alongside the phrase “DTFire Up The Kiln.” Another reads “DTFootball Vs. Fútbol” with a picture of a football sitting on a pair of soccer balls arranged in a way that it resembles male genitalia.

“Having been received so positively in New York earlier this year, it felt a natural fit to bring our campaign to the Windy City,” OKCupid spokeswoman Melissa Hobley said in a press release. “We were surprised and disappointed that Chicago did not approve the DTF ads. DTF is a phrase that needs to be redefined. It’s a shame that the city isn’t helping us redefine this phrase.”

Credit: OKCupid

A spokesperson for the CTA said the transportation agency rejected the ads because they violate its advertising policy, which prohibits ads containing profanity. According to the CTA’s website, it bans ads that promote “infidelity, escort services, and sexually-oriented products or businesses.” O’Hare officials referred to guidelines that deny ad content that promotes sexual conduct or what could be interpreted as sexual innuendo. The Chicago Park District could not be reached for comment.

Hobley says the ads, which can still be seen on billboards in Wicker Park, River North, and West Town, were designed to “subvert” the meaning of DTF.

“This campaign unashamedly reconfirms what we believe: that dating deserves better,” she says. “We’re proud that OKCupid is one of the only dating apps that truly reflects back what is happening culturally, and we felt a responsibility—and opportunity—to play a part in changing the conversation about dating culture and empowering each individual to expand the meaning of DTF in a way that reflects what they want from dating.”

The campaign also seems like a sideswipe at OKCupid’s swipe-heavy competitors—especially Tinder—the app that has a reputation for a userbase that often freely admits it’s “DTF.”

Founded in 2004, OKCupid was once considered the wild west of online dating. But it has lost market share in recent years to Tinder and Bumble, and its users have aged. According to a 2016 study, the median age of female OKCupid users was 32 years old, compared to 26 for Tinder users.

Credit: OKCupid

OKCupid, whose cofounder Sam Yagan is a Chicago-area native who bought a $3 million home in Hyde Park in 2017, recently repositioned itself as the slow option of modern online dating, or in the words of one of its slogans, “substance over selfies.” In 2017, the app was reprogrammed to slow down the matching process by requiring users to answer 15 questions before they begin.