Pickleball paddles with Bumble slogan: "Keep games on the court."
(Charley Gallay/Getty Images for The Colton Underwood Legacy Foundation)

Bumble Shot Itself in the Foot With the Anti-Celibacy Ad Campaign

Bumble is arguably the most popular dating app in the world as of 2024, with Hinge being the only worthy competitor in terms of popularity and safety, which makes their celibacy ad controversy really stand out.

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The online dating and networking app has been in the news lately for mainly two reasons, the first being a landmark feature pivot that saw men being allowed to initiate conversations first (previously, only women could text first). The second, and more controversial change, was their distasteful ad campaign, which mocked celibacy and abstinence.

The campaign involved billboards and the release of commercials with tag lines like “Thou shalt not give up on dating and become a nun,” and “You know full well a vow of celibacy is not the answer,” which were perceived in poor taste by people online. The ad was targeted specifically towards women, who are the primary critics of the baffling promotion. The swift backlash across social media prompted the dating app to pull the ads immediately, which was followed by a quick apology.

The widely shunned ad campaign is a byproduct of the company’s strategy to bring people back to the app, following the poor performance of the stock (it has gone down nearly by 45% since last July) and underwhelming fourth quarter results. The disastrous promotion is the latest in a series of setbacks for Bumble, following the company’s February announcements about laying off 350 employees. The company also underwent a massive change in 2023, when founder and CEO Whitney Wolfe Herd stepped down from her role, with Lidaine Jones taking over in the new year.

Bumble’s campaign was possibly an answer to the recent #voluntarycelibacy trend on TikTok, which advocates waiting to have sex with a romantic partner for a longer time, or taking a break from the activity altogether.


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Author
Evan Tiwari
Evan is a staff writer at The Mary Sue, contributing to multiple sections, including but not limited to movies, TV shows, gaming, and music. He brings in more than five years of experience in the content and media industry, both as a manager and a writer. Outside his working hours, you can either catch him at a soccer game or dish out hot takes on his Twitter account.