A couple shares a tub of popcorn in a movie theater. Seated next to them is a white fluffy square with an H emblazoned on its chest, eyes balancing on top. Suddenly the seat snaps up and squashes their fuzzy friend. Feathers go flying.

“Hinge is dying for people to find each other,” a woman’s voice says. “Literally.”

This ad might resemble a dark “Sesame Street” segment about the letter H, but it’s promoting the dating app Hinge.

“When our users hit it off, we bite the dust,” the voice-over continues.

Various ads released Monday feature Hingie, the app’s mascot, roasting in a campfire; encased in ice in a freezer; getting run over by a cab; or being flattened by an air-conditioner, its eyeballs rolling on the sidewalk. Mass marketing for dating apps does help make them more socially acceptable, but these Hinge ads are bizarre. Maybe it’s an attempt to make tech appear more human or lighten the mood now that online dating has come to represent more stress and frustration than love and laughter. Apparently singles are so deep in dating-app fatigue that we need mascots cheering us on.

Nathan Roth, Hinge’s chief marketing officer, says the ad campaign is all about portraying the app as something “designed to be deleted.” It represents the notion that Hinge “is coming along for the adventure as you date and get to know people. The more you find success, the more Hingie meets its demise and gets destroyed.”

Remember last year’s campaigns from Tinder and OkCupid, which were all about staying single and normalizing short-term romance? At least Hinge thinks you have a chance of finding a lasting mate. Tinder, OkCupid and Hinge — along with a handful of other dating apps and sites — are owned by Match Group. The difference in marketing reflects these apps’ target markets: Tinder is aimed at 20-somethings who might not be ready to commit, while Hinge portrays itself as “the relationship app.”

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The ads will be plastered throughout New York City subway cars. They’ll also be on Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube and Reddit.

Hingie is cute, but don’t expect him to become the Gritty of online dating.

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