Having failed to secure a foothold in France and Belgium, a Norwegian dating website has now brought billboards encouraging cash-strapped students to snag themselves a rich "sugar daddy" or "sugar mama" to Switzerland.
"Hello students! Romance, passion, mentoring and a luxurious lifestyle. Date a Sugar Daddy or Sugar Mama," says the billboard from RichMeetBeautiful, according to a photo snapped by a Zurich resident and sent to Swiss newspaper Blick.
The sign was parked outside Zurich's Technopark, a complex shared by universities, research institutes, and start-ups. Residents of the area told Blick that the vehicle carrying the billboard had been seen several times in recent days.
“Of course it bothers us but as long as it stays in the street and doesn’t park, we can’t do anything about it,” a spokeswoman for Technopark told the paper. A student called the sign "totally tasteless."
Although the billboard's appearance in Switzerland is new, similar signs have already sparked outrage in France and Belgium. When one of the advertisements showed up outside Sorbonne University in Paris in October, police seized the billboard and arrested the driver of the vehicle that it was mounted on, according to The Local.
Paris Deputy Mayor Bruno Juillard called it "despicable," while French ministers called the dating site a "tool that encourages prostitution" and "close to pimping." A student association at the university agreed, and lodged a criminal complaint against the site for pimping.
The site wasn't well received in Belgium either, with authorities also seizing signs and launching an investigation. However, Sigurd Vedal, who runs the site, said at the time that the situation was a "classic misunderstanding." He claimed RichMeetBeautiful is "like a normal dating site, but financial is part of the checklist."