Bumble Tries to Appeal to 'Frustrated' Customers, Has to Apologize

Dating app says sorry for billboards slamming celibacy
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 14, 2024 7:11 AM CDT
Bumble: Sorry for Slamming Celibacy on Our Billboards
A phone with an App Store selection of the dating app Bumble is pictured on Aug. 29, 2019, in Oklahoma City.   (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File)

Dating app Bumble got stung after running billboard ads that appeared to sneer at celibacy as an alternative to meeting people online. On Monday, the company backtracked and apologized for billboards that bore the message "You know full well a vow of celibacy is not the answer," juxtaposed against an introduction to "the new Bumble." The app launched a brand redesign in April in hopes of reviving user interest, which had been lagging, per the AP. Women on social media castigated the company for suggesting celibacy isn't a valid personal choice. Some online critics read the slogan as reflecting patriarchal notions that women should be willing to have sex with men even if they don't want to.

In an apology posted on Instagram, Bumble said it's removing ads that it called a mistaken attempt to "lean into a community frustrated by modern dating." It said the company has long stood up for women and their right to "fully exercise personal choice," but it admitted that the ad campaign didn't live up to those values and apologized "for the harm it caused." The company also plans on making donations to the National Domestic Violence Hotline and other organizations to support global efforts to "support women, marginalized communities, and those impacted by abuse." The company said it will also offer the billboard space to these same organizations for ads of their choice.

Bumble didn't respond to inquiries seeking information on how many billboards were involved in the campaign and where they were located. It remains unclear whether the ads also ran in other media. The dating app company has been going through a rough patch. Its shares have fallen steadily since last July, dropping roughly 45% over that time amid concerns over its ability to reach younger users. In February, it laid off 350 employees, roughly 30% of its workforce, announcing plans to revamp its app in order to make it more attractive to Generation Z.

(More Bumble stories.)

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