Yahoo! Launches ‘Operation Bachelor’

Either it’s almost Valentine’s Day or America’s hankering for reality television has finally spilled over onto the Internet in the form of Yahoo Personals’ search for America’s most “irresistible” bachelors.

Look out ABC and Fox, Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Yahoo might be on the verge of creating a close rival to the “The Bachelor,” “Joe Millionaire” and the plethora of other reality dating shows that have garnered massive appeal from television audiences. Not to mention the proliferation of Internet dating sites like Match.com, MatchClick.com, and the popularity of Yahoo’s own dating site, Yahoo Personals.

Taking its cue from this nationwide trend toward finding love in all possible places, which accounts for 16.3 million online date site users in 2002, Yahoo recently launched “Operation Bachelor 2003,” a first-ever, 10-city search for America’s most irresistible bachelors on the Internet.

According to reports, Yahoo combed the Web looking for Mr. Right, or as many of them as possible, and then chose 46 bachelor finalists from a pool of 4,000 single men looking for love on the Internet.

Cities included in the search were Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, San Diego, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C.

Criteria for “Operation Bachelor,” according to a Yahoo spokesperson, was based on candidates being charming, adventurous, good-natured, attractive, and serious about finding a mate on Yahoo Personals. Candidates of all ages and ethnic and career backgrounds were considered, said Yahoo

But the one commonality among all 46 of the chosen bachelors was their mutual desire to find love online.

According to Yahoo, from now until Valentine’s Day, each of those confirmed bachelors, including Jose from Baltimore, Peter from Boston, and William from Austin, will make themselves available for Miss Right to come knocking on their virtual door at Yahoo Personals.

In order for interested females in each of Yahoo’s ten chosen cities to interact with these Casanovas, they must first sign up with Yahoo Personals where they can access 30-second voice and video clips of the bachelors in action.

Since men typically outnumber women on online dating sites, Yahoo Personals’ Director of Marketing Cricket Wardein saw the bachelor search as a great way to boost the number of women subscribers.

“We have had an overwhelming response from women,” said Wardein.

By Feb.13, each of the bachelors will choose a bachelorette from their respective cities for a romantic (or possibly disastrous) Valentine’s date, paid for by Yahoo Personals, which will include a limo ride to and from the restaurant of choice.

In order to ease the awkwardness of the blind date, said Wardein, the Valentine’s Day dates will be done in groups in each of the cities.

“Just to take the pressure off,” said Wardein.

If there is any successful coupling after the initial first dates, Yahoo will post a picture of the happy duo on Yahoo Personals.

According to Wardein, Yahoo had no qualms about following in the steps of network television’s recent dating obsession and merely translated it into a different medium.

“We looked at the popularity of all of these dating shows and said ‘Wow,’ the Internet does something better than this by giving real people the chance to go out on dates with these bachelors and bachelorettes,” said Wardein. “For people who could never make it onto these shows, it’s an opportunity to get involved in the experience in a more general way.”

When asked if Yahoo Personals has any plans in the works for an “Operation Bachelorette,” Wardein said that her division is definitely interested in doing a flip-side version and following on the success of its bachelor search.

“We have a lot of single women in the office, so we’re having a blast,” said Wardein.

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