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  4. Bumble's billboard ads made fun of celibacy as an alternative to dating. It didn't go down well.

Bumble's billboard ads made fun of celibacy as an alternative to dating. It didn't go down well.

Lindsay Dodgson   

Bumble's billboard ads made fun of celibacy as an alternative to dating. It didn't go down well.
  • Bumble ran an ad campaign that appeared to make fun of celibacy as an alternative to dating.
  • The billboards bore the message, "You know full well a vow of celibacy is not the answer."

Dating app Bumble is in hot water over an ad campaign that appeared to make fun of celibacy as an alternative to dating.

The campaign featured billboards that bore the message: "You know full well a vow of celibacy is not the answer." Others read: "Thou shalt not give up on dating and become a nun."

People on TikTok took issue with the messaging, labeling it "tone-deaf" and offensive — particularly to those who had chosen a celibate lifestyle as a result of trauma.

Some said the ads were misogynistic and were chastising women for not casually sleeping with men.

On Monday, Bumble apologized and said it was removing ads, labeling them "a mistake."

"Our ads referencing celibacy were an attempt to lean into a community frustrated by modern dating, and instead of bringing joy and humor, we unintentionally did the opposite," it said.

The ad campaign came off the back of a brand redesign, which launched last month. Lauren Salaun, a TikToker with 200,000 followers, said Bumble's upcoming rebrand was a sign the company was in trouble.

She also criticized the campaign for "targeting women and not addressing men at all."

"Bumble is supposed to be a women-friendly dating app, and these ads are literally telling women how to date and what to do with their bodies," she said.

@laurensalaun

Fun fact: Years ago, I dated a literal sociopath… guess how I met him? #bumble #dating #datingtips #datingadvice #4b #4bmovement #celibacy #womensempowerment #feminineenergy #divinefeminine #greenscreen

♬ original sound - Lauren Salaun

Cecilia Regina, a TikTok user, said women were tired of how they were being treated on dating apps. She referenced the "4B movement," which has recently found new popularity among women. It dates back to South Korea in 2018, with women turning away from modern beauty standards and men's expectations about their lifestyles and appearances.

"Decentering men is working," Regina said. "And all these companies that rely on using you as the product are scrambling, trying to get you back in. Dating sites used to be free because you're the product. They are selling you to men without your consent.".

Actor Julia Fox reposted the video and added a comment: "2.5 years celibate and never been happier."

@ceciliaregina275

#bumble #hinge #okcupid #tinder #onlinedating #datenight #greenflag

♬ original sound - ceciliaregina275

Bumble's apology post recognized that celibacy was a lifestyle many women choose for various reasons, including asexuality, trauma, or harm.

"For years, Bumble has passionately stood up for women and marginalized communities, and their right to fully exercise personal choice," the post said. "We didn't live up to these values with this campaign and we apologize for the harm it caused."

@blacksapphic

#Stitch w/ @ceciliaregina275 Something I saw in the discourse around this new Bumble advertisement #blackgirltiktok #sociology #marketing

♬ original sound - ceciliaregina275

The post said that Bumble was making a donation to the National Domestic Violence Hotline and other organizations that support marginalized communities, women, and people who have been abused.

"We will also be offering these partners this billboard space to display an ad of their choice for the duration of our reserved billboard time," the post continued.

In a statement to Business Insider, a Bumble spokesperson reiterated that women's experiences were important to the company, and they understood the language on their billboards may have had a "negative impact on some of our community."

"This was not our intention and we are in the process of removing it from our marketing campaign, and will continue to listen to the feedback from our members," the spokesperson said.

Bumble has been in the news a lot recently. Cofounder Whitney Wolfe Herd stepped down as CEO at the end of 2023 and has since been vocal about the potential use of AI in the future of dating.

At the Bloomberg Technology Summit in March, for example, she floated the idea of "AI dating concierges" who would date each other on their human user's behalf.

Bumble has also axed its USP that women had to make the first move by enabling men to answer questions on a woman's profile first.

Bumble's rebrand seems to be in response to the fact it is struggling to attract new users. Shares in Bumble have dropped 45% since July 2023, AP reported, and the company laid off 30% of its workforce earlier this year.




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