On the Road to Brandweek: Bumble’s Alexandra Williamson Discusses Their Shift to Social and Targeting Gen Z

Moving beyond dating to address broader issues women face in social networking

Alexandra Williamson, Bumble's chief brand officer, will be on the Challenger Brands Track at the inaugural Brandweek Summit in Palm Springs, Calif., September 23–25. - Credit by Photo by Kristen Kilpatrick
Headshot of James Cooper

In this age of toxic discourse from all corners of social media that all too often takes a hard turn into outright misogyny—including from our most senior leaders—nothing was more ready for disruption than online and app-based dating. Bumble, launched in 2014, saw that need and filled it with an app that put the control of interactions firmly into the hands of women seeking to make connections.

Bumble has since evolved into much more than a dating app, taking on social discourse and standing up to the painful social rhetoric that is hurled with an increasing ferocity and an even more concerning casualness that bears no consequence.

This move by Bumble to take back the dating and social narrative in service of women is why Adweek is excited to have Alexandra Williamson, the company’s chief brand officer, join the Challenger Brands Track, which features eight brand marketers who have disrupted their respective categories, at the inaugural Brandweek Summit in Palm Springs, Calif., September 23 to 25.

Kristina Monllos, Adweek’s senior editor, brand marketing, caught up with Williamson to discuss Bumble’s evolving social mission.

We share three questions from their time together in the continuing On the Road to Brandweek interview series that will feature some of the absolutely stellar marketing executives set to speak. We’re excited to be on the road to Brandweek, and we hope you’ll join us.

"We were the first dating platform where women make the first move, which was far from the social norm at the time."

Follow this link to learn more and to register.

Adweek: How do you stay relevant and competitive while still being true to your brand?

Alexandra Williamson: I believe staying true to our brand has always been natural for us because we are so committed to the mission Bumble was born out of, which is to end misogyny and to hold people accountable for their actions online. This message was clear from day one of Bumble. We’re able to stay relevant and competitive because there are no other brands in the social networking space that do what we do. We were the first dating platform where women make the first move, which was far from the social norm at the time. Since our launch, we have evolved from a dating app to a social networking app, but we are still very committed to the “women first” approach we take to helping our users find empowering connections, whether that’s love, friendship or networking.

How much of your job is working on the creative? How much is everything else? 

I oversee a couple different teams at Bumble, including our talented creative team. In the early days of Bumble, I managed social media and produced all the brand content, which is how I discovered my love for content creation. I still love writing creative marketing copy and brainstorming with the creative team. I also manage our community operations team as well as our editorial team, which allows me to stay very close to the needs of our users and the trends that are influencing our culture and business.

Adweek has written about an ongoing shift from demographic targeting (Gen Y, Gen Z, etc.) to behavioral targeting—not being concerned about how old a consumer is, but instead focusing on what their needs and aspirations are. Does that shift apply to your own strategy these days? 

We just recently did a deep dive into Gen Z to really understand this group and how to create opportunities to connect with them. I think it’s definitely important to look at each audience group’s needs and aspirations to deliver a quality experience. We recently partnered with HBO in New York, where we hosted “Stay Home to the Movies” for Bumble users. We took over an iconic Brownstone in Manhattan and invited guests to enjoy an at-home movie night experience watching HBO’s exclusive shows. This was a hugely successful activation for us because the experience resonated with our core audience that consists of young, socially connected individuals that are always looking for unique things to do.

Join the Brandweek Masters: Vineet Mehra of Walgreens Boots Alliance, Andrea Perez of Jordan Group, Janey Whiteside of Walmart, and more for insights, Masterclasses and virtual experiences on Sept. 14-17. Register now

@jcoopernyc james.cooper@adweek.com James Cooper is editorial director of Adweek.