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Here’s how Bumble’s new safety tools let women play dating game by their own rules

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By Audrey Kemp | LA reporter

June 14, 2023 | 8 min read

The campaign won in the Advertising and the Consumer Packaged Goods categories at The Drum Awards for Marketing Americas 2023.

girl playing sorts

Just like sports, Bumble says it's committed to "playing it safe" when it comes to dating / Credit: Bumble

Dating should be fun. But for women, it can feel like a competitive sport where they’re always playing defense.

Problematic behavior is way too pervasive on dating apps, so Bumble did something about it by putting trust and safety at the forefront, from its brand values to proprietary in-app tools.

A national campaign, called ‘The New Rules of the Game,’ highlighted all the ways Bumble helps create a space where dating is safe and fun. Rooted in strategic insight and executed through breakthrough creative and activations, the brand aimed to strike a delicate balance between highlighting real issues and app features without losing a playful, approachable voice.

The Brief

Bumble uncovered a troubling cultural problem: 57% of women believe dating apps aren’t a safe place to meet people and 56% of dating app users have received unwanted sexually explicit content. But Bumble has something none of its competitors do – a mission to create a world where all relationships are healthy and equitable, and proprietary tools and resources that help women to take control of their dating journey.

In the US and Canada, Bumble had become an established and trusted dating app but still had an opportunity for growth. In previous marketing campaigns, Bumble had focused on raising awareness of its overall value proposition. Now, it needed to deepen the understanding of how Bumble’s product benefits create a superior dating experience. In turn, showing consumers why they should prioritize dating on Bumble versus competitors.

Isolation from the pandemic has changed how Gen Z and Millenials view relationships, gender, family ideals and planning. The challenge was to get single Millennial and Gen Z women in North America to consider using Bumble and to improve perceptions of Bumble as a safe place to date by promoting Bumble’s product features that support a safer dating experience in the app.

The Idea

Bumble’s strategic process started with having direct conversations with Gen Z and Millennial daters. To get a fuller picture of the modern dating experience, the brand conducted online ethnographies and scoured the internet to uncover the wealth of negative dating stories, memes, podcasts and documentaries. The research revealed an overwhelming sense of toxicity in dating culture, resulting in a growing sense of burnout and loneliness among its audience.

Without bordered safety features, daters – particularly those identifying as women and/or LGBTQ+ – faced a litany of bad experiences regularly. Lewd photos, crude conversations and the general fatigue from the high volume of swipes and chatting had sucked the joy out of dating. What the brand found more interesting, though, was that these bad experiences were so prevalent that most had come to see this as a way of life, an unfortunate reality of the modern dating playbook.

This led Bumble to the insight that drove forward the campaign: dating can feel like a competitive sport with a complicated rulebook where women always play defense. Don’t text back for three days. Let him make the first move. Dick pics come with the territory.

To reverse this trend, Bumble launched ‘The New Rules of the Game,‘ a national campaign led by three hero spots centered on women making the rules of their own dating game. Bumble kicked the work off on ESPN during the Women’s US Open and WNBA Finals to further amplify the sports-centric creative messaging. In the campaign, the brand reclaimed sports metaphors to talk about dating in an empowered way, not just playing the field but charging down it toward one’s goal and showing how Bumble’s safety tools let singles play the game by their rules.

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Coinciding with the campaign, Bumble’s policy team helped pass a bill in California, effectively prohibiting ‘cyberflashing‘ in the most populous state in America and helping to create a safer and more accountable internet. In support, it created digital video content and high-impact print ads in the New York and Los Angeles Times to celebrate and raise awareness of the bills passing.

To bring Bumble‘s commitment to safety IRL, the brand partnered with health tech provider Birdie to distribute almost 1,500 personal safety alarms to college students and athletes to give them additional peace of mind.

The Results

All of this work led to improved perceptions of Bumble’s commitment to member safety and support across safety concerns, with over 2.4bn earned media impressions, 114m+ paid media impressions, 61m+ video completes and 371,000+ organic social media impressions.

In addition, Bumble saw the public perception of the app being committed to user safety increase by 4%, while its perceived ability to prevent unwanted non-consensual behavior grew 5.2%

Most importantly, the work led to Bumble becoming the most trusted app among its competitors.

This campaign won at The Drum Awards for Marketing Americas 2023. Find out more about The Drum’s Global Awards program or head to our case studies hub to read more award-winning stories.

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