Women's Running editor Esther Newman was asked to comment on a controversial new Samsung advert on several large media outlets, including the Guardian and the BBC
A new Samsung Galaxy advert, which can be viewed below, depicts a woman running through a city at 2am, wearing headphones. It has received backlash for showing an unrealistic representation of women’s running, as many women do not feel comfortable running alone at night.
Women’s Running editor Esther Newman has appeared on BBC Radio 4, the BBC News website and The Guardian as a debate surrounding a controversial new Samsung advert rages on.
“Women don’t run at that time because we are too scared to,” Esther commented on the BBC Radio 1 Newsbeat show. “It’s really shocking. I don’t know any woman who would be running at 02:00 in the morning. Certainly not in a city.”
The advert follows a series of reports of violence against women, including against athletes like Team GB’s Sarah McDonald, who was assaulted last year while out training for the Olympics, and sprinter Rhiannon Linington-Payne, who shared her experience of assault with Esther in February 2021.
As recently as January of this year, 23-year-old school teacher Ashling Murphy was killed while out running in Tullamore, Ireland.
Following incidents like this, many women have felt afraid to go out running, particularly in the dark and particularly wearing headphones: the Samsung Galaxy Buds headphones were also worn by the runner in their recent advert.
When asked their opinions on women’s safety in the National Women’s Running Survey earlier this year, 18% of the Women’s Running audience stated that they had considered stopping running altogether due to fears of violence or harassment. 11% said they had been followed or intimidated while out running and 47% said they had been heckled or shouted at. And these figures have only increased from the previous year.
A statement from Esther on this Samsung advert follows:
“I keep on being asked if this ad is dangerous. In itself, it isn’t. What should have been obvious to the people creating the advert is that the concept is dangerous: a woman running alone, in a city, at 2am, wearing headphones. That is a dangerous situation. But the ad itself is laughable – no woman (in fact, I can think of few men) would put themselves in that situation, no matter how empowered they felt about themselves and their running.
“The simple fact is that women can be, or be made to feel, unsafe when they run in broad daylight. We were all shocked by the horrific murder of Ashling Murphy in January this year. This was a woman who was killed when she was out running in the afternoon. Never mind 2am, alone, in a built-up urban environment, wearing headphones.
“We know from our National Women’s Running Survey that many women wouldn’t dream of running wearing headphones in broad daylight. We know that, as women, we have to be conscious of our surroundings – this isn’t just about cars not seeing us. It’s about being aware of every single man in our vicinity, because we can’t tell the difference between men who are good and men who are bad. This advert fails to address the fact that the majority of women feel unsafe when they run: we change where we run, when we run, and what we wear when we run in order to feel more safe. That is the reality for most of us, and if the team behind this ad had spoken to a single woman runner ahead of creating the advert, they would have understood this simple, depressing fact.”
Samsung has since apologised for any offence caused by the advert.