Samsung under fire for ‘tone deaf’ ad showing lone woman jogger at 2am

A new Samsung ad by Ogilvy New York has been criticised by women’s running groups and campaigners for showing a woman getting up at 2am to go running alone through the streets of a city, wearing her Samsung headphones.

Reclaim These Streets calls it “tone deaf” and Esther Newman, editor of Women’s Running magazine describes it as “shocking.” Samsung’s line is that the ad is all about empowering people to “pursue wellness on their own schedule.”

No word yet from Ogilvy New York, but it’s perhaps telling that the ad was created by a male team: the agency’s CCO is Marcos Kotlhar, the creative directors credited are Nick Klinkert and Adam Reeves, the director is Max Malkin and the client is Matthew Leem, Samsung VP global brand marketing.

It does seem pretty shocking that, given women’s experience of exercising – or even just walking – alone, no one stopped to think about the premise of this ad. When teacher Ashling Murphy was killed while on a run in Tullamore, Ireland in January, many women shared posts and stories about being harassed and threatened while out running.

Samsung’s ad looks good, but consumers want more than that these days.

Update

Samsung says:

“The ‘Night Owls’ campaign was designed with a positive message in mind: to celebrate individuality and freedom to exercise at all hours. It was never our intention to be insensitive to ongoing conversations around women’s safety. As a global company with a diverse workforce, we apologise for how this may have been received.”

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About Emma Hall

Emma Hall is a journalist and editorial consultant and is the former Europe Editor of Ad Age, where she covered European marketing advertising, digital and media stories. She has written for newspapers including the Financial Times, The Guardian, The Times and the Telegraph, and was previously a section editor at Campaign. Emma started her career in New York as a researcher for a biography of Keith Richards.

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