Bumble Promotes Anti-Catfishing Feature With a Food Truck

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Dating app Bumble handed out free catfish to raise awareness of an anti-catfishing feature.
Dating app Bumble handed out free catfish to raise awareness of an anti-catfishing feature.  Credit: Bumble

What to do about a catfish -- millennial-speak for someone who pretends to be someone they aren't online?

Fry 'em up and eat them for lunch, says Bumble, the dating app on which women must message the men first.

The Austin-based tech company behind the app rolled out an airstream food truck in New York this weekend, serving fish tacos to promote a new photo verification feature intended to weed out phony accounts.

"Let's take these catfish out of the dating pool, put them on the menu, fry them up for all our users — and make it tasty," says Krystle Loyland, CEO at Preacher, the Austin-based agency that handled the activation for Bumble.

The "catfish" moniker was popularized in a 2010 documentary of the same name, in which twenty-something Nev Schulman ventured to the Midwest to meet a woman he'd met online. He arrived to find she was actually married with children ... and a web of false online identities.

Bumble's "Photo Verification" feature prompts users to snap a selfie in one of many random but specific poses, a way to verify that someone isn't using someone else's pre-existing photos from the web. The app has a dating setting, but also lets users search for "BFF's," and soon will let them network with "BumbleBizz."

"I don't think something like photo verification is a really sexy feature to talk about, but it's a really important one," Loyland says. But still, she says, "You've got to do that in a playful way."

The "Great Catch" promotion dished out free catfish-themed dishes -- think catfish sliders or blackened catfish tacos, with accoutrements such as roasted squash salad and a honey-sweetened Arnold Palmer -- from "Top Chef" contestant and Brooklyn chef Sam Talbot.

Chelsea Maclin, Bumble's director of marketing, says the campaign was a way to connect with both newcomers to the app and its "huge user base" in New York about the new feature. Users could work with brand ambassadors to verify their photos while in line.

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