Bumble's New Anti-Celibacy Ads Spawn Major Backlash

After teasing a new marketing campaign, Bumble's ads saying "celibacy is not the answer" have landed flat with people everywhere.

Melissa Willets - Author

May 14 2024, Published 11:44 a.m. ET

The dating app Bumble has fumbled majorly.

After teasing a new marketing campaign, the company's ads saying "celibacy is not the answer" have landed flat with people everywhere.

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Instead of making daters laugh, the ads instead managed to insult folks in droves.

So what are people saying about Bumble's celibacy ads? And how did the company react? Finally, is Bumble's response to the backlash too little too late? Read on for the details.

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What is the Bumble celibacy ad backlash all about?

As TikTok creator @chelsea_dish explains in her viral share, the ads about celibacy not being the answer for frustrated daters are a "Bumble fumble."

The single woman pointed out that the app always positioned itself as a way for women to be in control of dating. But in her opinion, it attracts the laziest men who don't want to have to do anything other than wait for women to make the first move.

If you ask the creator, in an effort to rebrand itself, Bumble further damaged its image with consumers and basically insulted anyone who abstains from sex, which is a very personal choice.

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This creator isn't alone in finding a major fault with the ad campaign.

"Shocked by the @bumble ad saying 'a vow for celibacy is not the answer.' In a world fighting for respect and autonomy over our bodies, it's appalling to see a dating platform undermine women's choices. Wasn't this app supposed to empower women to date on their terms?" tweeted one outraged person, who was far from the only Twitter user to blast the ads.

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Bumble backtracked on the ads once the backlash went viral.

Per Ad Age, Bumble decided to remove the ads following the backlash. It even issued a lengthy apology on its social channels. As the statement says, while Bumble attempted to "lean into a community frustrated by modern dating," instead of "bringing joy and humor," they "unintentionally did the opposite."

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The statement went on to assert that Bumble stands for women, and values personal choice, but also admitted the ads didn't live up to those values, and said sorry "for the harm it caused.”

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It can't be understated that celibacy is an important choice for many groups of people, from those who are healing from trauma to those who worry about their reproductive rights being restricted.

Finally, Bumble pledged to remove the ads from its global marketing campaign. The company said it will make a donation to the National Domestic Violence Hotline. Bumble even promised partners in this space the billboard space the company already reserved for its now banished celibacy ads.

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But many people were still upset regardless of the apology, with one commenter writing, "I think everybody has spent enough time online to tell a meme from a serious ad. Those ads were not meant as a joke. So don't slide the word 'humor' over something that's so delicate already. Enough with the gaslighting."

Indeed, the damage may be permanently done. "How many members of your team did this ad go through to get approval? And no one saw an issue. We’re good on apologies. Beat it," sniped another grossed out individual.

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