Samsung’s new ad showing a woman happily running with headphones alone in the middle of the night was meant to be a celebration of people’s freedom to exercise whenever they want. Yet the electronics brand is under fire for missing the point that no such freedom actually exists, particularly for women.
Samsung apologizes for how ad showing female runner is being interpreted
Called “Night Owls,” the global campaign depicts a woman checking her Samsung Galaxy watch and heading outside at 2 a.m., where she puts in her earbuds and runs solo around the streets, many of which appear deserted. She encounters a few people, including a cyclist on a bridge.
“Sleep at night, run faster, push harder, follow the herd—not for me,” a woman’s voiceover says. “I run on a diff schedule—mine.” The ad promotes Samsung’s wellness offerings, including its watch, phone and earbuds.
Many immediately criticized the ad, which began running in the U.S. earlier this month in both 30-and 60-second formats, as insensitive to women’s safety. Samsung’s ad was labeled tone-deaf and naïve, prompting several media reports in the U.K., where marketing executive Sarah Everard was raped and murdered while walking home last year, and in Ireland, where teacher Ashling Murphy was killed while exercising in January.
Yet Samsung, while apologetic, appears to have no plans to change or remove the commercial. The commercial was created by Ogilvy. A representative from the shop did not return a request for comment.
The brand issued a statement about its intentions with the ad.
“The ‘Night Owls’ campaign was designed with a positive message in mind: to celebrate individuality and freedom to exercise at all hours,” Samsung’s statement read. “It was never our intention to be insensitive to ongoing conversations around women’s safety. As a global company with a diverse workforce, we apologize for how this may have been received."
Samsung did not reply when asked if the ad would be altered after missing the mark on its reception.
On Twitter, consumers were incredulous that the ad was green-lit. Many highlighted the fact that women were likely not involved with the creation of the ad. It’s a familiar refrain for tone-deaf marketing that is often produced by a group that is not diverse enough to see the problems the ads might create.