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UK ad watchdog bans FKA Twig's Calvin Klein ad for 'objectifying women'

UK ad watchdog bans FKA Twig's Calvin Klein ad for 'objectifying women'

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The UK's advertising watchdog has banned a Calvin Klein ad featuring British singer FKA Twigs for irresponsibly objectifying women and portraying the singer as a "stereotypical sexual object".

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said on Wednesday (10 January) that it upheld two complaints accusing the Calvin Klein ad of objectifying women and inappropriate for display in an untargeted medium, and concluded that the ad has breached the UK’s responsible advertising codes. 

The ad, which includes a poster first seen in April 2023, featured FKA Twigs shown wearing a denim shirt that was drawn halfway around her body, leaving the side of her buttocks and half of one breast exposed. 

The ASA considered such depiction placed viewers’ focus on the model’s body and physical features rather than on the clothing being advertised, and thus ruled the ad overtly sexual and not suitable for display in an untargeted medium. 

In that regard, the ASA said that the ad must not appear again in such form, and has asked Calvin Klein to ensure future ads did not irresponsibly objectify women and were targeted appropriately. 

In response, Calvin Klein told the ASA that the ad was similar to other ads they had been publishing in the UK for many years. It argued that the images were not vulgar and were of two confident and empowered women who had chosen to identify with the brand, and the ads contained a progressive and enlightened message.  

The brand added that as the ads were for clothing, including underwear, a degree of nudity should be expected, but all conventionally sensitive body areas were fully covered in the ads. It also claimed that the style of the imagery in the ads did not encourage the public to view the model’s body as an object. 

Additionally, Calvin Klein highlighted that the ad campaign also featured well-known men, thus it was not focused on sexualising women. 

This ad came as part of a campaign for the brand’s 2023 spring collection, which also included posters featuring model Kendall Jenner that contained a degree of nudity, but the ASA did not consider them as irresponsible or offence on the basis of objectification and did not find a breach in responsible advertising codes. Male models including Michael B. Jordan and Aaron Taylor-Johnson were also featured in that campaign. 

(Photo courtesy: Calvin Klein's Facebook page)

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