Here's a tale of the left hand (editorial) not knowing what the right hand (advertising) was doing, and the discomfiting consequences.
On page 42 of last Sunday's New York Times T: Style magazine ("Beauty Spring 2007"), journalist Holly Brubach takes a thoughtful look at two books about dieting, anorexia, and distorted body image. Her story--"Starved to Perfection: Why Are We Not Entitled to Take Up Space?"--ends with this sobering insight:
Over the course of the past three decades, men have been pursuing unnatural bulk and women exaggerated thinness, as if the world were such a small and symbiotic place that the weight they gain is the weight that we must lose, as if we need to minimize ourselves to make room for them.
Directly opposite Brubach's column is a full-page ad for Not Your Daughters [sic] Jeans (spelled correctly on the company's web site). The main photo depicts a woman from the (naked) waist down, holding a tape measure around her jeans-clad hips. The headline and subhed read:
Instant Gratification -- Look One Size Smaller
"Flatten Your Tummy, Lift Your Butt, Feel Younger" reads the copy.
I'm actually OK with the jeans; if some women want to subject themselves to denim bondage, so be it. It's the weird juxtaposition. Whose idea of good judgment was it to place an ad for corsetry--isn't that what a "criss-cross tummy tuck panel®" implies?--next to an article with "starvation" in its headline? An article that asserts that "dieting has become so commonplace that the skeletons on the catwalk simply strike us as more expert at it than the rest of us"? It's not as though there weren't other full-page ads to choose from: perfume, sunscreen, Cartier watches.
On the other hand, the double truck double-take might have been some clever, underpaid production artist's subversive idea of poetic justice. In which case: A+ for conceptual art, D- for marketing impact.