Bumble apologises for ‘anti-celibacy’ ads after furious backlash from Mashable

Bumble has apologised for its poorly received ads referencing celibacy, calling them a “mistake.” The marketing campaign is being slammed across social media, with users accusing the dating app of undermining women’s choices and shaming them for refraining from sex.

In a statement posted to Bumble’s official Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok accounts on Monday, the company acknowledged its misstep and announced that it would be removing its heavily criticised anti-celibacy ads from its global marketing campaign.

Bumble initially revealed its ill-fated campaign at the end of last month, alongside a rebrand, app redesign, and the introduction of its new Opening Moves feature. Created by Bumble’s in-house marketing team, the company’s global advertising campaign used the tagline, “We’ve changed so you don’t have to.”

Unfortunately, many felt Bumble’s ads didn’t line up with its aim to “empower women” and “challenge outdated heterosexual dating norms.” The new billboards featured statements such as “A vow of celibacy is not the answer” and “Thou shalt not give up on dating and become a nun,” with photographs of them soon circulating online for all the wrong reasons.

Labelled the “Bumble Fumble” by some, the celibacy-focused ads were accused of being in bad taste for a myriad of reasons. These included the pressure imposed on women to sleep with men despite not wanting to, ongoing challenges to reproductive rights, and the implication that women cannot make their own choices about their sexual activity. Several social media users further pointed out that Bumble’s messaging delegitimised asexual people’s experiences.


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Bumble recognised such criticisms in its apology. “We made a mistake,” wrote Bumble. “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.”

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

Mashable has reached out to Bumble for comment.

“Some of the perspectives we heard were: from those who shared that celibacy is the only answer when reproductive rights are continuously restricted; from others for whom celibacy is a choice, one that we respect; and from the asexual community, for who celibacy can have a particular meaning and importance, which should not be diminished,” Bumble continued. “We are also aware that for many, celibacy may be brought on by harm or trauma.”

In addition to pulling its ads, Bumble announced it will be donating to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, as well as various other organisations that support women, marginalised communities, and people who are being impacted by abuse. Bumble also stated that it would offer them the billboard space it had originally booked for its campaign.

“The ad was received negatively because being alone or celibate is now common solely because there are not enough men who exihibit [sic] the characteristics of a partner women would want,” @love_samsmith commented on Bumble’s Instagram apology. “So to mock being celibate is not addressing the root problem.”

“You made it a woman’s problem to fix the lack of sex men are having,” wrote @julieschirado. “How about addressing why women are not interested in having a relationship with men? Maybe tell the men to fix themselves instead of the women to give in. Do better.”

Bumble’s response to its advertising fiasco comes hot on the heels of Apple apologising for its own tone-deaf ad. The tech giant cancelled plans to run its new iPad commercial on television after the grim clip was widely criticised as “dystopian” and “heartless.” It seems it isn’t the only company struggling to take the pulse of its audience.