1. If you search “thigh gap” on Twitter, an advertisement from Levi’s awkwardly tops the feed.
“Thigh gap” is a term used in the pro-anorexia community to refer to a space between the upper thighs coveted by girls who want to lose weight. Of course it’s not great branding for a fashion company to be associated with the pro-ana community, even if it’s unintentional.
Levi’s has not returned BuzzFeed Shift’s request for comment, but we can probably assume they did not sign up to advertise on Twitter wanting to be associated with the term “thigh gap.” So, how could this happen with their ad?
2. Being a pants company, maybe they wanted to be associated with the word “thigh”?
Except a search for just plain “thigh” reveals no promoted Levi’s tweet, so they probably didn’t request to be associated with that or other leg words.
4. But if you search “gap” on Twitter, the promoted Levi’s tweet appears again.
It would make sense for Levi’s to advertise against its competitor, the Gap, which appears to be what’s happening here — Levi’s is using “gap” as a keyword to associate its ads with in the hopes of driving customers away from the Gap, its competitor, and straight into their arms.
Last Thursday, Twitter introduced a feature to its advertising that allows advertisers to input negative key words — terms they don’t want to be associated with. So if you’re a bacon brand and don’t want your ads appearing on searches for “Kevin Bacon” you can make “Kevin Bacon” one of your negative keywords, and you won’t have to worry about appearing every time someone searches “Kevin Bacon,” the results of which are currently free of bacon-related ads. Levi’s and other advertisers can make “thigh gap” (or whatever bad term they wish to remain distant from) one or their negative keywords to avoid the awkward ad placement I found today.
Levi’s isn’t the only advertiser topping a pro-eating disorder stream of tweets. Staybridge Suits appeared today on the top of a search for “pro mia” (short for “pro bulimia”). Probably something to do with the “MIA” part of it, which vaguely relates to travel?
Anyway, companies paying to promote tweets on Twitter probably can’t avoid all gaffes, but it’s worth taking a little extra time to think about what they DO NOT want to associate with, as much as what they DO want to associate with.