Shock value advertising: CK’s racy ads

1999 Calvin Klein Ad

  • Ad featured children under 10 years of age
  • Placed on magazines and billboards
  • Pulled within 24 hours

2010 Calvin Klein Ad

  • Caused controversy in United States; banned in Australia
  • “Suggestive of violence and rape”
  • “Demeaning to women by suggesting that she is a plaything of these men”
‘Veggie Love’: PETA’s Banned Super Bowl Ad
PETA’s “Veggie Love”

  • Produced for :30 second commercial to air during Super Bowl XLIV (2010)
  • NBC, producer of Super Bowl XLIV, denied air time to PETA
  • Cited the following reasons for denying time
    • “[Female actress] rubbing pelvic region with pumpkin”
    • “Screwing herself with broccoli (fuzzy)”
    • “Asparagus on her lap appearing as if it is ready to be inserted into vagina”
    • “Rubbing asparagus on breast”
Focus on the Family

  • Christian, pro-life advocacy group to buy air time during Super Bowl XLIV
  • Much controversy surrounding message of ad
  • Released, and caused much less commotion than expected


Celebrity endorsements

  • Used to gain attention for the ad and associate their product and brand with celebrity, a figure with attractive and likeable qualities
  • Require celebrity-brand congruence to enhance the credibility of the spokesperson and the effectiveness of the advertisement
    • Characteristics of a spokesperson interact with the product advertised
    • “What is beautiful is good” theory
  • Calvin Klein used Brooke Shields to link his new brand of stylish, comfortable clothes for the “modern woman” – simple, sexy styles for successful, confident women – with her public image and qualities in order to establish the image of Calvin Klein as a sexy brand
    • So effective and revolutionary that Calvin Klein advertisers continue to use celebrities with racy public images
    • The public’s association of eroticism, sexuality and desirability with Calvin Klein continues today
    • Set the tone for modern fashion advertising
    • Catapulted the careers of many celebrity models: Mark Wahlberg, Kate Moss, Brooke Shields

Kate Moss and Mark Wahlberg for CK Jeans and Underwear, early 1990s ads

Zoe Saldana, Kellan Lutz and Mehcad Brooks for CK Underwear, 2010 ads

Eva Mendes for CK Jeans, 2008 ad

Eva Mendes for CK Fragrance, banned 2008 commercial


Gender Issues

  • Objectification and exploitation of women, particularly in this ad’s use of an underage actress best known for portraying a young prostitute
    • CK’s intent was to associate the brand with sex
    • CK was also the fashion’s pioneer in modern men’s fashion advertisements: first to present provocative images of men, highlighting male sexuality and beauty
  • Ads emphasize poor female body images for the public – Kate Moss and “heroine chic”
  • Introduced androgyny as erotic and attractive
  • Also produced ads sexualizing men and women together, making them equals and often empowering women
    • Instead of hiding female sexuality, it exposes alongside overt male sexuality

Lara Stone, 2010 CK Collection, and Kate Moss, 1993 CK Fragrance


Child Stars

The history of former child stars in Hollywood shows that these young actors and actresses take divergent paths in life.  Some may become successful adult actors, while others fall into patterns of drug abuse, legal troubles, and bankruptcy.  Drew Barrymore is an example of a child actress who overcame her struggles to regain her prominence.  On the contrary, Macaulay Culkin faded from Hollywood after his drug problems.  There is no clear answer as to what perpetuates the future success or failure of child starts, but proper parenting, including preventing overexposure of children at a young age, is a necessary component for achievement.


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