A recent advertisement for the travel site Booking.com comes with an unexpected twist: It features a woman proposing to a man. After first premiering around the holidays, the ad drummed up buzz during the high-profile Grammys, when it aired on CBS during the show.
If you haven’t seen it yet, here’s a recap: Katy Perry’s “Unconditionally” plays in the background as “Lena’s resolution” appears on-screen. That consists of taking her presumed boyfriend “on a trip somewhere special.” Her boyfriend meets her in a park, where she’s standing with a ring.
The two embrace, and the frame cuts to the couple walking on a beach at sunset. “There’s a booking for every resolution,” a woman’s voice says, alongside a snapshot of the Booking.com app, which allows users to reserve lodging online.
In the past few years, much discussion has turned to why women proposing to men is still so rare. As the Atlantic reports, among married heterosexual couples, 97 percent of grooms report proposing to their brides. And until this point, that statistic has largely been reflected in mainstream ads. One Jared the Galleria of Diamonds spot implored women to “dare to ask him” in 2018; it was met with quite a bit of pushback from conservative writers.
After the Booking.com ad aired during the Grammys — which had 19.9 million viewers in 2019 — people immediately took to social media to share their views. While some celebrated the company for the ad, others seemed to reject the idea.
There have been recent high-profile examples of women proposing to men, though. It has been well-documented that Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), a 2020 contender, proposed to her husband in the 1970s. Just a month ago, Olympic skier Lindsey Vonn counter-proposed to her fiance, hockey star P.K. Subban, on Christmas Day. After Subban proposed to her last August, Vonn said she was “returning the favor.” She wrote on Instagram: “We talk about equality but actions speak louder than words. Men should get engagement rings too and this is what P.K. deserves.”
Booking.com may be taking a page from other companies that have been increasingly representing nontraditional gender roles and romantic relationships in advertisements. The Hallmark Channel recently came under fire after pulling (and then reinstating) an advertisement for Zola, a wedding planning site. The ad featured two brides kissing at their wedding.