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Samsung advert: why woman running alone at night ad has been called ‘tone deaf’ - reaction explained

Jamie Klingler, co-founder of Reclaim These Streets, said the advert was ‘disrespectful’ following Ashling Murphy’s murder earlier this year

A new Samsung advert has been branded as “tone deaf” by viewers and safety campaigners as it depicts a woman going for a run at 2am.

In light of the recent murders of a number of women, especially 23-year-old teacher Ashling Murphy who was attacked going for a jog at 4pm, the advert has received backlash and sparked a conversation about women’s safety online.

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This is what you need to know.

What is the advert?

The new advert from Samsung features a woman running along through the streets of London at 2am, wearing a pair of Samsung earbuds.

At one point in the ad, she runs past a man on a bike on an empty bridge doing tricks on a BMX. She smiles at the man as she runs past.

A screen grab taken from the Samsung Galaxy TV advert which shows a woman running alone at 2am (Photo: PA/Samsung)

The advert, titled Night Owls, is promoting the Galaxy Watch4, Galaxy Buds 2 and Galaxy S22 phone. 

The voiceover for the ad says: “Sleep at night. Run faster. Push harder. Follow the herd. Not for me, I run on a different schedule - mine.”

What has the response been like?

After the advert was released, many quickly pointed out how unrealistic the scenario was, especially in regards to recent events which have seen a number of women killed.

Irish teacher Ashling Murphy was attacked and killed earlier this year in January when she was out jogging at 4pm.

Her death led to the hashtag #shewasonarun being widely shared on social media as women shared their stories about being harassed whilst out running.

Floral tributes laid at the Grand Canal in Tullamore, Co Offaly, where primary school teacher Ashling Murphy was found dead after going for a run on Wednesday afternoon (Photo: PA)

In March 2021, Sarah Everard was kidnapped and murdered by Metropolitan Police officer Wayne Couzens when she was walking home having left a friends house in Clapham, south London, at around 9pm.

On the evening of 17 September 2021, Sabina Nessa was murdered after she left her home at around 8:30pm to meet a friend at a pub. She was attacked in Cator Park, Greenwich. Earlier this year in February, Koci Selamaj pleaded guilty to her murder.

On Twitter, one person wrote: “The Samsung advert where the woman feels empowered to go for her daily run across London at 2am… tell me your agency is all men without telling me.”

A sign saying “SHE WAS JUST WALKING HOME 97%” among the flowers and candles on Clapham Common where floral tributes have been placed for Sarah Everard on March 13, 2021 in London, England (Photo by Hollie Adams/Getty Images)

Another tweeted: “Sorry Samsung but when a woman is wearing headphones running at night & a bike pulls up next to her she doesn’t smile, relaxed. Ridiculous advert. Unfortunately we do not own the night, the real world for female runners at night is quite different.”

Jamie Klingler, co-founder of Reclaim These Streets, told the PA news agency: “It’s so tone deaf, especially in light of Ashling Murphy’s death.

“It’s disrespectful. It isn’t safe for us to run at night.”

Referring to a scene in the ad when a man on a bike rides up behind the woman and they interact, Klingler said: “That’s the bit that really made me wince. It’s almost laughable how bad this ad is.”

Klingler said the ad “absolutely should be pulled”.

Esther Newman, editor of the Women’s Running magazine and podcast, told PA: “I can’t imagine any woman wanting to run at that time, anywhere, certainly not in a city.

“It seems like a really naive advert. In theory it’s a lovely idea [to be able to run at 2am]. In reality it’s not happening.”

Newman said 70% of the runners the magazine had surveyed had faced issues around safety.

She said: “The very idea that a woman would go out running at 2am and be wearing headphones is absolutely ludicrous.

“I don’t think the ad is dangerous because I don’t think any woman would see it and think, “Oh, I’m going to do that”.”

What has Samsung said?

Responding to the backlash, Samsung has apologised for the advert.

In a statement, the tech company said: “The Night Owls campaign was designed with a positive message in mind: to celebrate individuality and freedom to exercise at all hours.

Samsung apologised for the advert (Photo by JUNG YEON-JE/AFP via Getty Images)

“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.”