Financial technology company Revolut, a app-based alternative to banking, is in hot water with a new advert, circulated on the London Underground. The campaign calls out the alleged 12,750 people who ordered a single takeaway last year using the app, asking “You okay hun?”
Finance author and journalist Iona Bain, who founded the Young Money Blog, took to Twitter to voice her anger at the advert.
How much does this ad infuriate me? Let me count the ways. Firstly, patronising language & awful single-shaming more redolent of early 2000s Bridget Jones, not a modern and empowered fintech brand (1) pic.twitter.com/rnIg3YXRfq
— Iona Bain (@ionayoungmoney) February 4, 2019
She also called out Revolut for its use of customers’ personal data in its advertising, suggesting it creates more mistrust around brand’s use of data.
Thirdly, using people’s personal spending data for cheap advertising just gives open banking’s critics more fuel and feeds the perception that brands use our private info for purposes not entirely in our interests. (3)
— Iona Bain (@ionayoungmoney) February 4, 2019
Many users weighed in to criticise Revolut’s “judgemental” and “shaming” advertisement.
— Eleanor Thompson (@Eleanorthomps0n) February 2, 2019
@RevolutApp FIXED IT FOR YOU: To the 12,750 people who ordered a single takeaway on Valentine’s Day…
Enjoy eating everything you ordered and not having to share. PS, they weren’t worthy of your greatness anyway pic.twitter.com/fI7EOU1nsr
— Catherine Snelson (@bomotweets) February 5, 2019
— Debbie (@Deborah_Deborah) February 2, 2019
I would really love to understand more about your current tube ad @RevolutApp speaking with many single friends (your suggested target audience), the social stigma and being shamed in advertising for being single is a daily challenge and concern. How does this move us forward? pic.twitter.com/pkN4qXz3vW
— Lou Lai (@loulaiuk) February 4, 2019
I may not be single and my partner and I may not celebrate Valentines Day (by mutual agreement), but I won’t tolerate “single shaming” any more than any other attack-on-a-specific-demographic. It’s not funny, never has been.
— Jon Hall (@jonhall242) February 4, 2019
Appearance: Snarky and patronising.
— Theresa Burton (@TheresaLBurton) February 4, 2019
Others pointed out there may be poignant reasons for being alone on Valentine’s Day, which the advert was not sensitive to, such as bereavement.
Guess what @RevolutApp i ordered a single takeaway last Valentine’s. I would do anything to eat another Special Banquet for 2 from Mr Qs with my wife. But fucking cancer put a stop to that. Just ask your snowflakes in marketing to think twice before #singleshaming your customers.
— Babouche Golf (@BaboucheGolf) February 4, 2019
Well, I think it’s outdated and fairly offensive to assume that someone eating alone on Valentine’s Day has something wrong with them. Not sure if you’ve read Felicity’s piece, but she mentions the recently bereaved, ppl who are single etc etc. So plenty of good examples there.
— Sara VillaBenwelle (@sarabenwell) February 4, 2019
As if Twitter hadn’t pointed out enough holes in this advertising, it would also seem it is not entirely original.
Some users out this wasn’t the first advert of its nature, crediting Spotify for creating a very similar concept back in 2016.
Left: 2016, Spotify
Right: 2019, Revolut
Ad creatives, u okay huns? pic.twitter.com/DJkxkrjF2Z
— Michael Passingham (@MrPassingham) January 31, 2019
— Stephen Jury (@stephen_jury) February 4, 2019
Despite the substantial backlash, some users did see the funny side – claiming they would be ordering multiple takeaways by themselves.
— Kai Bin (@kaibin) January 28, 2019
Joke’s on them – I’ll order takeaway for three (for one) on Valentines Day 🖕🏻
— Michael Goodeve (@MichaelGoodeve) February 2, 2019
In a statement to Yahoo Style UK, a Revolut spokesperson said the advert was intended to show “solidarity” with those not in a romantic relationship.
“The purpose of this ad was not to take the mickey out of anyone, but to show solidarity with our fellow singles – with a dash of humour.
“However, with the current copy, I can appreciate that a small number of people have interpreted it differently, but that was not our intention.
“Fortunately, going by the original BBC article with over 400 comments, the overwhelming majority of people are clearly not offended by the ad, and that’s encouraging. Nonetheless, we’ll take a deep look at this and learn from this as we go forward.”
This isn’t the first advertisement to prove controversial on social media in recent months.
Earlier this year, Gillette’s “The best a man can be” campaign was widely slated. The short film, circulated on YouTube asks: “Is this the best a man can get?” – a play on the brand’s 30-year-old tagline, “The best a man can be”.
However, it was deemed “anti-male” and “patronising” by its critics.
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