OkCupid has responded to a viral video online that shows a woman and two other people tearing down an advertisement for the company’s new “Every Single Person” ad campaign in a New York City subway train while calling the ads propaganda and too risqué for children for featuring queer people, pansexuality, and people who identify as nonbinary.
In the video, the woman can be heard saying the ads were “affecting the next generation.”
“This is disgusting,” she says. In another video, she’s heard saying, “This isn’t about equality, you guys…it’s about communism.”
The targeted ads were part of a campaign from the online dating company to recognize its users openly and proudly, while also addressing some assumed taboos in dating — like nonmonogamy.
After the incident, OkCupid released a statement condemning what it called an extreme reaction to the ad: “At OkCupid we celebrate love for every single person, regardless of identity, ethnicity, race, orientation, or gender. Many have reached out to us with heartfelt reactions to our “Every Single Person” campaign, sharing the joy of seeing their true selves represented in advertising.
“A much smaller few have had shockingly vitriolic reactions to it; but these reactions only serve to make it even more clear that we must continue to champion ALL people. Whether you’re a non-binary person, an environmentalist, a vaccine advocate, or all of the above, you deserve to find what you’re looking for on OkCupid.”
Melissa Hobley, OkCupid’s chief marketing officer, tells The Advocate that if the company has upset people like the people seen in the video, then it means the company must be doing something right.
“When you feel you're hitting a nerve, that's okay,” Hobley says. “The most important thing though is that we're supporting all of our daters…if that puts us in a line of fire a little bit, we're totally fine with that. We can handle it.”
The inspiration behind the campaign came from a desire by OkCupid to show support to its many different types of users, especially with data showing new ways users identify, says Hobley. For example, in one year the company saw an 84 percent increase in users who identify as pansexual. Over the summer, the company also saw a nearly 20 percent increase in those who identify as nonbinary.
Hobley says that the company has been surprised by the reaction of the people in the video — and a little disappointed.
“It's actually just doubled down our commitment to inclusivity and diversity, and it tells us that actually, it's even more important to show all kinds of people and all kinds of love,” she says.
Other responses have been more supportive, Hobley says, including from people who are able to see themselves in the ads. She notes that the models for the ads represented actual queer communities — they weren’t just random models.
“If we're pissing off people that don't want to celebrate diversity or to celebrate all kinds of love, then that's okay — you can go elsewhere,” Hobley says. “We’re totally fine with that.”