Zara Throws a Bizarre Curveball in ‘Love Your Curves’ Ad With No Curves

What exactly happened here?

Zara, the clothing company, is taking heat for an ad that says, “Love Your Curves,” over an image of two models without curves.

Zara actually has a line of jeans called “Body Curve Jeans,” so it seems the ad is actually suggesting you should love your Body Curve Jeans. But the way it’s phrased, combined with the image, makes the retailer look tone-deaf and insensitive.

The outcry started with a tweet, and the criticism flew around the world fast. The ad was spotted in Dublin by Irish radio presenter Muireann O’Connell, and had been retweeted and liked thousands of times just a few hours later. By the next day, media outlets everywhere were on top of the controversy. Even Perez Hilton was saying, “Oh come the fuck on!”

The question in the advertising pipeline is: When did the whole thing go off the rails? Did they approve the headline and the visual separately? Did no one think referring to the jeans by their shorthand would confuse people? Are we just so unaware of the reality outside our own brand standards that these things can happen? Did someone actually think there were curves in this picture? Are we, in fact, being trolled?

I’m a woman with a modicum of curve, and I just want to be clear that there’s nothing wrong with these particular women. They lack curves, but that doesn’t mean they’re lacking. They’re fine and dandy. The issue is entirely with the juxtaposition of the headline and what appears to be an unnecessary shorthand.

The fix is also simple. Give these gals a different headline, and go find a curvier woman or two to pour into those tight jeans. Or if Zara doesn’t actually want to promote curves, change the headline so it’s clear the ad is talking about Body Curve Jeans.

Then resolve anew to prevent tone-deaf mishaps by increasing diversity on your brand team.

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@rebeccacullers Rebecca Cullers is a contributor to Adweek.