On Friday, I was reading… something… on my phone, and the above advertisement greeted me in the middle of it.
As you’ll see it, it’s for a company called IVROSE, and depicts a woman wearing long johns with the buttflap slightly open in a way that can most certainly be described as “cheeky.”
I posted about it on Instagram, and over the next couple days, others started tagging me because they were getting the ad too. Then, on Sunday night, a whole slew of people reading a new article on Elle.com about Martin Shkreli started reporting the same thing, though the woman is wearing a different pattern of long john than the one I had seen.
It turns out this company has been selling these ads for at least a couple weeks now.
What is IVROSE? In response to a question that asks “Is shopping with IVRose safe?” on the IVROSE FAQ page was this answer: “IVRose was founded by people with nearly 10 years in the e-commerce industry. We take your business seriously and, above all, want our customers to be happy.” It further explains that the website “is a unique shopping website with a distinctive tone focusing on women's fashion” and that the brand, which was launched in 2015, wants to bring “happiness into every woman's life."
“IVRose is on a mission to build an one-stop-shop for the modern yet economical fashionista. We offer customers an inspiring place to discover the latest and most-wanted products with affordable prices.”
Okay, well that’s settled. Their Facebook page is managed by a company called Shanghai Lishang Information Technology Co Ltd, which “provides interactive Web development and online services to companies, governments, and not-for-profit organizations in China and internationally.” But the contact information for the actual business is the same as a similar looking clothing website ChicMe, and gives an address in El Monte, California. According to the Better Business Bureau, ChicMe’s website is owned and operated by Alkmand Estate LTD, a company located in Cyprus. Alkmand Estate owns and operates dozens of other similarly named clothing websites, such as Joyshoetique, Boutiquefeel, and Bellewholesale, among others.
How did this ad end up all over the internet? Well, that’s likely to do with the distribution network that works as the intermediary between two different entities: the media company that hosts the ads, and the clothing company that wants the ads on there. According to a friend who I called up because I remembered he used to work in this field, and who was kind enough to quickly talk this over before he had to go back to doing his job, essentially, the clothing company in question buys time on the distribution network, which will give its ads a certain number of impressions across a certain number of days. Every party involved will pick a platform based on quality and who is in their network of sites. The media companies would likely tend towards picking one that wouldn’t serve ads like this ass cheek, however nice it might be, but the company managing the ads can easily dump a lot of them wherever they please. Upon inspection of Elle.com’s backend, they appear to be using Google Ads, though a request for comment from its parent company Hearst was not responded to by press time.
But it’s likely these ads were never intended to be run on this page. As Nandini Jammi, the co-founder of Check My Ads, a brand safety company, wrote on Twitter, the article in question had been “marked as ‘unsafe’ by brand safety tech and lower quality ads are being swapped in.”
One reason so many people were getting the same ad would be if the parameters are extremely broad—as in, the targets for who would be most likely to respond to an ad for long johns like this. Sometimes, those ranges are very niche, but in a case like this, they could be so wide that the company hopes to just target a reader who probably a woman within a decades-wide age range. Returning to the page this morning, the butt in question was no longer there, replaced with several different new advertisements for jewelry and other products.
But the plot thickens when one realizes that the photo in question on the ad is not the photo you’ll see if you go to IVROSE or any of its other similar companies’ websites. It’s a photo from Yandy.com, a company best known for their domination of the cheap Halloween costume market, seen here
This is the one being sold on IVROSE.
When you reverse image search the Yandy one, one of the results does lead you to ChicMe, but the same photo does not appear when you click through the link though—you’re back to the woman in the ChicMe images.
An email requesting comment from IVROSE was not returned by press time. So, our best guess as to how this image was proliferated everywhere over the past few weeks: A woman posed for these photos for a manufacturer making clothing that several other internet clothing companies purchased. One bought up a ton of ad space this holiday season. That ad was served to me, and possibly you, in the hopes we would rock out with our butts out.
In any case: I hope all these women are doing well, and happy holidays.
Follow Kate Dries on Twitter.