You don’t need to watch Mad Men to know that advertising is a constant exercise in stretching the imagination. Cryptocurrency: brave! Nice-smelling soap: manly! Anthropomorphized M&Ms: political! But a thoroughly unsettling promoted post from the lingerie brand Harper Wilde that likens wearing one of their bras to being fondled by Ryan Reynolds has put all of these confounding, delusional campaigns to shame.
The ad, which circulated on Twitter and Reddit after appearing on Instagram feeds, reads:
This bra is like if Ryan Reynolds was gently holding up your breasts and whispering in your ear that you are doing a good job … honestly.
You probably have questions, like: what? Why? Is this supposed to be horny, or does someone find the idea of the Deadpool guy supporting their boobs platonically comforting? I know Reynolds, a renowned feminist who surely supports universal access to comfy, affordable bras, owns a digital-marketing company, but did someone really believe he would want to be involved in … this?
Frankly, I do not have the answers, but Harper Wilde might. The company, a direct-to-consumer start-up whose website, ironically enough, wonders why “the bra industry is so over-sexualized,” responded to a Reddit thread about the post and attempted to explain how, exactly, this string of words managed to appear in their advertising. Apparently, it was actually a real customer’s review of one of their bras and was supposed to run alongside other reviews as part of the brand campaign. “We thought it was cheeky enough to run as an ad,” the brand wrote, but the rating and attribution (which would have made it clear that it was a review) was cut off by Instagram’s interface. They added:
Our small team is 99% women and we absolutely do not condone creepy non-consensual boob-grabbing of any kind, even in a figurative hypothetical bra-review. We’re so sorry this creeped anyone out! Absolutely not our intention and we’ve pulled the ad from running.
The Reddit post was accompanied by images of other, supposedly tamer, customer reviews from the promo package, which featured quotes describing the bras as “if butter and a cloud made a baby” and “I want to bequeath it my inheritance when I die.” Okay, sure …? Unfortunately none of these can erase the image of Ryan Reynolds holding boobs, which is now permanently seared on my brain.