Ahead of Father's Day, an absolutely bizarre ad appeared in a Sri Lankan newspaper offering a 15% discount off Triumph, the international lingerie brand. And it's a cautionary tale of how one ad -- appearing in one print newspaper, promoting a one-day sale at one mall in Sri Lanka -- can go viral internationally for the wrong reasons.
Next to a photo of a model in a purple push-up bra, the copy in Ceylon Today newspaper read: "For the ladies … who pamper their dads." Let's pause for a moment to let the creepiness of that sink in -- and to ponder what message the brand was possibly trying to get at.
The reaction on Twitter was merciless.
I don't even have the words. pic.twitter.com/Izqx6DFTyv— breen (@mehreenrana) June 22, 2015
WTF advt of the year. pic.twitter.com/AIk4SjMWor— Savio (@saviojoseph) June 22, 2015
The brand apologized on Facebook, saying that it was "a major lapse of judgment and process on our side." A follow-up post on the page of Triumph International India offered a bit more explanation. We offer in full below because it's interesting -- it seemed to us less about feminism than about creepy incest -- and because some commenters on Twitter have praised the brand's reaction.
"Triumph International is a global brand operating in many countries around the world with independent marketing activities in each country.
For Father's Day on 21st June 2015, one of the malls in Colombo, Sri Lanka, organized a series of consumer promotions and invited all its partner brands to participate. In a rather rushed last minute action for this event, Triumph Sri Lanka put together an advertisement that reached the paper without the necessary vetting.
Taken by itself, the copy on the advertisement sounds controversial and insulting to women. Triumph Sri Lanka published an apology on its Facebook page the very next day, acknowledging its error and accepting responsibility. There was no intention to disrespect anybody's sentiments.
Triumph International is rooted in its absolute respect for women and its mission across the globe is to tailor 'female self-confidence'. We would like to reiterate that there was no intention to offend and the team in Sri Lanka is examining its internal processes to ensure such lapses do not occur in future."