Samsung has apologised for a "tone deaf" ad which features a woman running alone at 2am.
The advert, titled Night Owls, which was promoting the Galaxy Watch4, Galaxy Buds 2 and Galaxy S22 phone, features a young woman running at 2am, with earbuds in, through deserted, dark streets and alleyways.
While the young woman is running, the voiceover says: “Sleep at night. Run faster. Push harder. Follow the herd. Not for me, I run on a different schedule: mine.”
But the advert has been criticised by some safety campaigners and women's running groups for being "unrealistic".
Women’s safety group Reclaim These Streets described the campaign as “tone deaf” in light of the death of Irish teacher Ashling Murphy, who was killed while out on a run in January.
The 23-year-old’s death in Tullamore, Co Offaly, caused shockwaves and sparked vigils across Ireland and beyond in her memory, as calls were made for a change in attempts to tackle gender-based violence.
It led to the hashtag #shewasonarun as women shared stories about being harassed while out running.
“It’s so tone deaf, especially in light of Ashling Murphy’s death," Jamie Klingler, co-founder of Reclaim These Streets, tells the PA news agency.
“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, Ms Klingler said: “That’s the bit that really made me wince. It’s almost laughable how bad this ad is.”
Esther Newman, editor of the Women’s Running magazine and podcast, tells 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.”
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Newman said 70% of the runners the magazine had surveyed had faced issues around safety.
“The very idea that woman would go out running at 2am and be wearing headphones is absolutely ludicrous," she adds.
“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’.”
According to recent figures from the Office for National Statistics, half of all women have felt unsafe at some point walking alone in the dark.
A further survey of over 2,000 runners by Runners World and Women's Health revealed 60% of women had been harassed when running, 25% reported being regularly subjected to sexist comments or unwanted sexual advances and 6% said they had felt threatened to such an extent by harassment while running that they feared for their lives.
TV presenter Cherry Healey also expressed concern about the advert on social media.
"I just want to qualify what I wrote on my stories today (essentially - I cannot believe no one flagged this up in the creation of this tone deaf ad) from my personal experience and the experience of every single woman I’ve asked in the past two weeks since seeing this ad," she writes.
Highlighting her own experiences of running alone Healey continues: "I run in the morning, every day that I’m not filming. I would say that 50% of the time I encounter some form of unwanted attention.
"I have been followed on a bike multiple times and in a car which was terrifying, I have been shouted at aggressively uncountable times- I barely notice it now I am so used to it. So the idea of running at night is absolutely out of the question.
"Do you relate? or is this a fuss over nothing?" she concludes her post.
And her followers were quick to share their own thoughts on the advert with many agreeing that it wasn't a realistic depiction.
"Absolutely my first thought was why was she running alone in the dark! Not cool," one user shared.
"The first time I saw this ad I said to my husband 'I doubt there's a woman on the planet who would run in the dark with earphones in, it's ludicrous!'," another agreed. "I cannot believe a single woman can have been involved in creating this ad."
Others shared their own experiences of running alone.
"My god I can’t run in daylight without being hassled so wtf would I run at night," one commented.
"I can’t even go for a run myself at 4.30pm in the winter! Because I’m too scared. Insane how it got the green light," another shared.
"As IF anyone would go out at that time of night in London! Absolutely no way. Plus, they shouldn’t be advertising it as an idea to women either," yet another user agreed.
Following the backlash Samsung have apologised saying it was never its intention to "be insensitive to ongoing conversations around women's safety."
“The Night Owls campaign was designed with a positive message in mind: to celebrate individuality and freedom to exercise at all hours," Samsung says.
“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.”
Additional reporting PA.