Google "Calvin Klein ads" and you're likely to see some of the most provocative campaigns around. Many were considered controversial, be it billboards, print ads, or commercials. In fact, in its 45 years, the brand has been criticized for promoting gang rape, violence, child pornography, and drug use. The ads have also been targeted by the American Family Assocation, the U.S. Department of Justice, and even former president, Bill Clinton. And many have been pulled from magazines and off the air. Interestingly enough, though, as controversial as they were the images hardly affected sales. Guess sex really does sell?
We've compiled a list of some of the images and commercials that have received the most backlash. From Kate Moss and Mark Wahlberg's 1992 campaign to a creepy video that resembles child porno, here are The Most Controversial Calvin Klein Ads.
Kate Moss and Mark Wahlberg
Following her campaign with Mark Wahlberg, Kate Moss appeared in a commercial and print ads for the brand's perfume, Obsession. Some felt both the photos and the commercial were reflective of the "Heroin Chic" movement that was taking place at the time, and thus glamorized drug use. In fact, even former president Bill Clinton condemned other CK ads from the same decade.
This 1995 ad campaign shot by Steven Meisel was one of the most controversial in the brand's history. The ad, which featured models in what seemed like a wood-paneled basement, received tons of backlash. Parent groups, child welfare authorities, leads of the Catholic League, and the American Family Association felt that the images looked like child porn. The Justice Department was even forced to investigate into it. The investigation was eventually dropped, but only when Calvin Klein was able to prove that all the models were adults. And even then, the brand still pulled the ads.
The pictures are provocative, for sure. But the commercial was even creepier.