In 2014 Whitney Wolfe Herd, former co-founder of Tinder launched her own dating app Bumble. Like Tender, Bumble functions with the utilization of custom profiles and swiping to find matches. Herd’s intention with this dating site was to eliminate the uncomfortable come-ons that women often dealt with by putting them in control of the situation. In order to do so, Bumble requires that in a heterosexual match the women have twenty-four hours to make the first move. Same sex relationships allow for either individual to make the first move. The goal of this app is to promote a safer online experience for female users and encourage them to go after the things they want in life. Backed by Badoo, the world’s largest dating network, Herd created one of the fastest growing dating apps since the rise of online dating.
Two short years later Bumble introduced in-app purchases that allow for users to have extra time when making initial connections. Along with this was the launch of Bumble BFF which works just as the dating counterpart for making friendships. Shortly following this was the creation of Bumble BIZZ an extension that focuses on career networking. “We’re taking out the soliciting nature and the sexism that exists in networking” (O’Connor). This part of the app uses geolocation to help find professional connections. Bumble BIZZ is not just for those seeking employment or networking opportunities it is also a tool for employers and companies to utilize when searching for employees. Each extension of Bumble is housed under one app but are separate profiles. This feminist app has more than 40 million recorded users across the three extensions.
Bumble has utilized the creative workings of many different ad agencies for their various campaigns. In the past the list included agencies such as Jerry Studios but has remained with FlyteVu for many of the more recent marketing campaigns. Jerry studios who released their first paid advertising in 2014, is among these social media marketing teams. Taking advantage of the digital age Jerry studios focuses on social media marketing, boosting social presence, and media buying. Their work started with Burger King Chicken Fries and has grown to include companies like MTV, Hallmark, and Funny or Die. FlyteVu, a Nashville based marketing agency that covers music branding to event activation. Starting in 2015, FlyteVu aimed to create relevant pop-culture moments by connecting brands with music. Some of their work includes Victoria’s Secret Pink, BET Her Awards, various CMT (Country Music Television) shows, and SXSW (South by Southwest) events. Their hard work has collectively won them countless awards including a GRAMMY and an Emmy. Another company helping Bumble is VMLY&R, a global Marketing agency who strives to connect people with brands on a deeper level. Their work includes Wendy’s, Heinz, New Balance, Dell, Sprint and The U.S. Navy. They not only create social media and videos they create font branding and storytelling for the companies they work with. Recently, FlyteVu and VMLY&R collaborated with local professionals, such as director A.V. Rockwell, to create a predominantly female team for the Bumble “The Ball is in Her Court” (#InHerCourt) campaign.
Bumble’s #InHerCourt campaign is not designed to sell a product but rather to sell a mindset. Being a self-proclaimed feminist dating app, they encourage women to own their power through work, relationships and friendships. Since the Super Bowl demographic is generally men Bumble took advantage of the growing female fan base to release their commercial. The message meant to inform the public about the brand and values also wants to remind its female viewers of how much power they hold. “If you seek to create impactful change, you must often make an impactful first move,” stated Wolfe Herd. “By sharing our message with a global audience of hundreds of millions, we are aiming to leverage this cultural moment widely considered to be male dominated and flip the narrative to show that no matter the playing field, we are here, and we have the power to be heard.” (Bumble). Partnering with Serena Williams, a highly respected powerful female athlete, provided an influencer that would reach multiple audiences and age ranges. “Serena Williams sets records. She crashes ceilings. She’s an elite athlete — the best of the best. A role model. An entrepreneur. An activist. A mother. She’s the first and the only. She’s always made the first move in her life, both on and off the tennis court” (In Her Court). Aligning with Bumbles values, Williams represents a strong woman who broke through the barriers as an athlete, mother, entrepreneur to represent Bumble’s message as a Global Ambassador.
The Ball is in Her Court campaign (#InHerCourt) is a self-empowering campaign done by Bumble. The campaign is a collection of behind the scenes interviews with the influential creators of the video content as well as a major spot in the Super Bowl commercial lineup. Starting January 3rd, teaser trailers were released in preparation for the big commercial reveal. The idea behind the teasers were to show that it is possible for women to break through a predominantly male market such as directing and advertising. The videos are meant to encourage women of various ages and backgrounds to stop waiting for the perfect moment or someone to give an opportunity and go after their goals. The campaign is also strategically creating a community within its own platform as well as social media for women to come together and influence one another. The dating app is not limited to any specific gender or sexuality, though as a self proclaimed feminist platform their market demographic is generally women eighteen and up.
Over the course of the month leading up to the big game a social media push began utilizing their handles and hashtag on Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter and Facebook. In preparation for their first commercial debut as well as the first dating app to have a spot in the Super Bowl. Since the Super Bowl is made up of more women spectators than before and easily the most televised event of the year, they took their opportunity. Using a social star like Serena Williams, who is well known and promotes various companies allows for a strong female face to engage users in the campaign. Williams is known for her hard work and dedication to not only tennis but her role as a profession, wife, and mother. Her presence spans a large portion of the desired demographic for this campaign since many have watched her since her career took off in the early 2000s.
Prior to the release of the Super Bowl commercial Bumble its social media presence to announce its spot in the big game. The company regularly uses Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, and its own social community The BeeHive through the website and app to reach its target demographic. The social platforms are for business to consumer content created and shared reflecting the brands image and message more than pushing for purchase. With this strategy the company can create better connections and brand awareness, to achieve the goals for campaigns.
Starting on Facebook, the Bumble team announced the upcoming partnership with Williams through an interview styled video. The announcement via Twitter by Bumble Founder Whitney Wolfe Herd, initially received the most interaction and was the only post that did not contain a video filmed by the advertising team. Shortly following, teaser videos as well as various inspirational videos utilizing the #InHerCourt message spread on YouTube, Instagram and Twitter. The content shared by Bumble for this campaign stuck to various videos and the #InHerCourt hashtag created by their female forward team. With little information on what the company’s hashtag meant the videos gained thousands of interactions solely for its overall message after the nationally televised release.
Facebook – There were only four posts in association with the campaign via Facebook. The first post announcing the partnership with Williams and a teaser to watch out for the upcoming spot in the Super bowl. The next post was not for a month, just after the commercial airing during the first quarter of the Super Bowl. The next two followed within the next week and a half featuring Williams and how she has made the first move throughout her life. Following that was a video based on the commercials script, though this time utilizing staff and family of Bumble. Utilizing real women of all ages and backgrounds provided more reach to those Williams might not have been an effective influencer for. Initial reach and interactions were slow but gained traction with the release of the commercial.
YouTube – Similar to its other platforms Bumble released a promotional video announcing the partnership with Serena Williams on February 3rd. Starting on January 15th in preparation for the commercial partnership with Serena Williams the team released three promotional videos that would later be featured on Facebook. The final video shared was the #InHerCourt Super Bowl commercial the night before the game. Since this handle was not receiving much interaction the early release did not reach many people before the official release time. The first promotion received ten thousand views but only twenty-three likes and minimal comments. In comparison the commercial received just over 144,000 views the first night and reached over 2.3 million by the end of the week. Reach increased from twenty-three likes to over nine hundred in that time frame.
Instagram – During the duration of the campaign Instagram was only utilized for the push of the commercial, no other content was shared in preparation for the campaign. From the time of the first promotion video on YouTube, the Bumble handle received nearly a thousand new followers by the end of February. There is no evidence to show any correlation between campaign and followers gained.
Twitter – By far the most successful of the social media marketing only tweeted twice about the campaign. On the third of February with an announcement from CEO and founder Whitney Wolfe-Herd, sharing the campaign and influencer the company would be working with. The next, as well as last tweet about the campaign was on February 3rd just after the national release. Various other companies including VMLY&R the advertising agency used for the campaign, celebrities, and everyday users used the #InHerCourt hashtag to share the intended message. After the commercial release the hashtag was used to share links to the Super Bowl commercial, articles, Bumbles YouTube channel, and to share user’s responses and stories related to the hashtag and commercial.
Through all the platforms combined there were minimal dislikes or negative comments. The overall response was of the positive nature. Many users unaware of Bumble, commented about the commercial even with little to no knowledge of the company. In comparison to the social media tactics Bumble utilizes for scheduled postings this campaign did not follow that pattern. Facebook and YouTube are not heavily utilized platforms for the Bumble team. While Instagram is used every day to every three days, the content generally shared is reflecting connections with their target audience. There is minimal if any call to action marketing via this platform but rather promotion of events in major cities for anyone to attend. Twitter remains the platform with the most reach. Though many users are unaware of the company or have negative ideas of sharing their involvement with the growing dating app, it still has over 22.3 thousand followers.
The release of the commercial during Super Bowl gained the ad more than 81,000 likes and 8 million views across the four social media platforms. Majority of user communication with content and the hashtag were done via Twitter and Facebook. Instagram was not utilized till the content release at the big game though managed to gain more than 6,000 views. Since this zone of social community was based mainly on images the content did not do as well.
Bumble utilizes all marketing strategies for their campaigns, each one targeting a specific goal and often many overlapping to cover a wide range or targets. With the In Her Court Campaign Bumble seems to have kept their SMART Objectives in mind.
Specific – The campaign was specific as to when and where it would take place as well as expanding the target demographic to increase brand awareness. The Super Bowl is televised nationally, reaching millions of people watching not just the target audience. Aiming to flip the script and have women of all demographics create impactful change.
Measurable – Measurable through social media, and any increase in app downloads. From an outside perspective the campaign reached millions of individuals and shared the values and brand, meeting Bumbles goal. An analysis of the Super Bowl itself shows how many people were in the crowd and watching the game making that another measurable factor outside of social media. Whether or not it met what Bumble was looking for internally is another question.
Appropriate – The idea for the campaign was appropriate for a brand that pride themselves on being a feminist app. Using a female team to produce a women’s empowerment commercial highlighted the goals of the company. Having a market strategy that aimed towards the female fan base also played a key role in the release of the commercial and helped people make connections with the brand.
Time-oriented – The timeline for this campaign began with the announcement in early January maintaining the deadline of February 3rd.
Online dating has become a popular and heavily utilized market. Each site has its own structure, process, goals and message for users. Sites like eHarmony have been around for years utilizing commercials, radio talk shows, and various other forms of marketing. Though a site like eHarmony is not entirely the same as Bumble. The closest competitor to Bumble would be Tinder since the two platforms are similar in design and functionality. Bumble is the first dating app to have a spot in the Super Bowl, let alone the first of the two to produce any media for TV. This makes analyzing the two companies values and brand equal to apples and oranges.
When looking at the message the company is sharing there is a larger market for competition. Dove has been utilizing women’s empowerment through their campaigns for years. Other companies have been promoting women empowerment in campaigns such as Always Like a Girl and Under Armour’s I Will What I Want campaigns. Even Olay capitalized on a Super Bowl spot in the 2019 game targeting a skin care product to women, also as their first Super Bowl debut. This is not necessarily competition since Bumble is not in the same market as these other companies, though it is branding them with a similar message and shared values.
The campaign has died down since the initial release at the Super Bowl and interactions with the hashtag as well as video content have also seen a decrease. With a tactical marketing strategy Bumble was able to market their brand, mission and values successfully to their target audience. The campaign effectively provided its message by understanding their needs to achieve its goal. With content being shared on multiple social platforms it allowed the company to reach a wide age range and quickly respond to its audience. The call to action telling women “the ball is in your court” followed by the Bumble logos reminded the audience that the versatile app is a place for new connections and opportunities in their careers. Though the campaign seems to be short lived it brought attention to adversity and opportunity for all women to take action for what they want.
“A Global Marketing Agency Building Connected Brands.” VMLY&R, www.vmlyr.com/.
“About.” Bumble, bumble.com/en-us/about.
“Bumble and Serena Williams ‘Make The First Move’ During the Super Bowl.” VMLY&R, 31 Jan. 2019, www.vmlyr.com/news/bumble-and-serena-williams-make-first-move-during-super-bowl.
“Entertainment Marketing Agency.” FlyteVu, www.flytevu.com/.
“In Her Court.” The BeeHive, The BeeHive, 2019, thebeehive.bumble.com/serena-williams-in-her-court.
O’Connor, Clare. “Billion-Dollar Bumble: How Whitney Wolfe Herd Built America’s Fastest-Growing Dating App.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 17 Nov. 2017, www.forbes.com/sites/clareoconnor/2017/11/14/billion-dollar-bumble-how-whitney-wolfe-herd-built-americas-fastest-growing-dating-app/#2bb39efa248b.
Originally posted for the WSUV Digital Technology and Culture Social Media Case Study Class, March 31st, 2019. Visit Post Here.