After more than 5,000 people contacted a lonely bachelor who advertised himself on billboards across Birmingham in the hope of finding a wife, many have been left disappointed after it was revealed it was all a publicity stunt by a Muslim dating app.
Mohammad Malik, 29, took the bold step of picturing himself lying down on huge hoardings across the city with the words, ‘Save me from an arranged marriage’.
He also set up a website ‘Findmailkawife.com’ in order to catch the eye of a potential partner.
But last week the Muslim dating app Muzmatch revealed it was behind the publicity stunt.
Now, when users try to reach Mohammad’s website, it has been rebranded to ‘Find Malik a wife on MuzMatch’, with hopeful suitors being directed to the dating app.
Now, when users try to reach Malik’s website, it has been rebranded to ‘Find Malik a wife on MuzMatch’, with hopeful suitors being directed to the dating app
Mohammad Malik, 29, took the bold step of picturing himself lying down on huge hoardings across Birmingham with the words, ‘Save me from an arranged marriage’
The revelation has prompted mixed reactions online, with one user saying that it is the ‘best marketing campaign’ they had seen in ages, while others slammed the stunt as ‘unethical’ and ‘misleading’ for customers.
Before it emerged that it was a publicity stunt, more than 5,000 hopefuls contacted him via his website and another 1,000 or so have slipped into his Instagram, Twitter and Facebook DMs.
Mohammad, an innovation consultant and entrepreneur, told Radio Five Live how he intends to sort through the avalanche of interest.
He said he has enlisted a few friends to create spreadsheets and will then ‘audit’ his way through all the messages. The columns will include age, location (ideally UK), hobbies and personality type but said he would not focus so much on looks.’
Mohammad, speaking about the revelation that it was a publicity stunt, said Muzmatch’s marketing team pitched the campaign to him late last year.
Mohammad, who denied the campaign was disingenuous, told the Guardian: ‘This was an idea that was presented to me and I thought: it’s genuine, I’m 100% looking.
‘But these guys just absolutely took it on steroids. I’ve always been a bit tongue in cheek. A bit quirky. I’ve done a bit of standup comedy. So I think it was quite in line with that.’
Shahzad Younas, the chief executive of Muzmatch, told the newspaper: ‘Malik was very keen to stress that there’s nothing wrong with an arranged marriage. For a lot of people it works.
‘The whole premise touches more upon how young Muslims are increasingly becoming empowered through Muzmatch to find their own partner, but still do it in a way that’s respectful of their faith, their traditions, their culture.’
Muhammad is originally from London, but describes Birmingham as ‘a second home’ thanks to the ‘top quality food spots in the city centre, bustling Alum Rock and the incredible mosques’
It comes as Muzmatch is being accused of ‘riding on the coattails’ of internet dating giant Match.com to improve its success in a High Court trademark claim.
Match LLC, which owns the dating website and Tinder, is suing Muzmatch and its founder, former Morgan Stanley banker Shahzad Younas, over alleged trademark infringement.
The court heard that Match had made four failed offers to acquire Muzmatch before bringing the legal action.
In Mohammad’s billboards he can be seen lying on his side pointing upwards with a big smile.
He is from London but calls Birmingham his second home thanks to the ‘top quality food spots in the city centre, bustling Alum Rock (and) the incredible mosques’.
Hussein Kesvani claimed that the publicity stunt by MuzMatch was a way for the company to assert itself.
‘The aim is to get people really invested in a character that you’re not quite sure is ‘real’,’ Kesvani told the newspaper. ‘Muzmatch might argue that ‘Malik’ is more a representation of the kind of clientele of the platform. Which, in this case, seems to be middle-class, fashionable, metropolitan young Muslims for whom faith is a part of their identity and aesthetic.
‘To me, this represents what MuzMatch is trying to assert itself as, now that it finds itself being the most successful ‘halal dating’ app … It was always going to lead to some identity crisis as it expanded.’
Mohammad said he considered himself ‘more on the orthodox, conservative side’ of Islam.
He said: ‘When going on dates, it’s always a chaperone date. From a spiritual angle, the purity is intact in terms of there’s no ulterior motives. What you’re focused on is marriage.’
He is currently being helped by Muzmatch to go through the thousands of responses he has received to far, with Mohammad saying he has responded to 100 so far.