Bumble’s Big Fumble: Dating App Humbled After New Ads Sting

Bumble's Big Fumble: Dating App Humbled After New Ads Sting

By Michele Yeo

Bumble got humbled this week after the dating app seriously stumbled with a series of new advertisements. Billboards popped up around Los Angeles featuring photos of women with taglines like, “You Know Full Well A Vow of Celibacy Is Not The Answer” and “Thou Shalt Not Give Up On Dating And Become a Nun.” The ads were met with an immediate backlash as many people swiftly and enthusiastically swiped a definitive left on the messaging.

Dissenters quickly took to TikTok to air their grievances with the advertisements, accusing Bumble of a major fumble. With the dating app’s membership believed to be in the range of 3:1 men to women, many accused the app of trying to scare and/or shame women back to the app to appease its primarily male customer base. Others slammed the app for belittling at best, and shaming at worst, people who have chosen celibacy for a myriad of reasons – whether it be sheer disillusionment with dating, trauma, or, especially in certain parts of the United States, the knowledge that women’s reproductive rights are being stripped by the day. The knowledge you could be forced to carry an unwanted fetus to term or be punished for taking agency over your body doesn’t exactly make one horny, now does it?

Bumble's Big Fumble: Dating App Humbled After New Ads Sting

“Celibacy is not the answer?” asked one TikTok user, “So what is the answer? Giving it up to raggedy undeserving men? Et tu, Bumble? “Trying to guilt trip and manipulate women into settling for these raggedy men? No.” Another user accused Bumble, which has long been positioned as the more women-friendly dating app as, “being the app that caters to men the most.” Bumble always differentiated itself from other apps by having women initiate conversation, positioning that as empowering for women but critics say it simply rewarded low effort men. That feature has recently been dropped as part of a brand refresh. Women can now add prompts to their profiles for men to respond to. For same-sex and nonbinary users, either person can set and respond to these prompts, called Opening Moves.

Bumble boasts it’s “a new era” on the app but the recent billboards have people asking exactly which era they’re going for? Certainly not one of our Lord and Saviour Taylor Swift’s. The refresh announcement attempts to appeal to frustrated singles saying, “We know dating can be exhausting. Many of us are just one more ‘u up?’ message away from giving up on dating apps entirely, and one more ‘heyyyy’ away from moving to outer space. For a while, it’s felt like abandoning all hope has been the only way to never deal with it again. And to be honest, we wouldn’t blame you.” The app’s Instagram page further positions itself as commiserating and empathizing with the modern dating experience, portraying historical images of women as being “exhausted” by the dating scene. A scene which, admittedly, is a dumpster fire. The announcement concludes with Bumble reassuring its users, “We’ve changed, so you don’t have to.”

Bumble's Big Fumble: Dating App Humbled After New Ads Sting

But back to those billboards. Immediately inundated with negative feedback the app quickly yanked them and issued an apology on its Instagram saying in part, “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.” While the ads were certainly tone deaf, critics were also frustrated that the billboards were targeted towards women, that it was up to women to do something in order to change their dating life. One Instagram user commented under the apology, “Run an ad campaign telling men how to write better bios, take better photos, how to actually hold a conversation and string a basic sentence together and not randomly bring up sex in the middle of a normal conversation. Then men will have more success on your app . This isn’t women’s problems to fix.” It was a sentiment shared by many. And yes, why were the ads directed at women? After all, the app itself says it’s women who are “exhausted” by dating and the endless “u up” and “heyyyyy” messages. It isn’t primarily women sending those kinds of messages (this is where I acknowledge I’m coming from a heteronormative perspective which tragically, is the only one I have) So indeed, where are the billboards suggesting men do better so women may actually want to date and maybe even have sex with them? Bumble says “we have changed so you don’t have to?” No. Some of y’all do have to change. Yourself included, Bumble. Until then, women will continue to swipe right on the bear.

Tags: Bumble, top story, topstory

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