Thursday, October 28, 2010

Calvin Klein is up to their old tricks again

Thank goodness Australia has an advertising standards bureau with the power to ban offensive advertising. In this case Calvin Klein has done it again. This time the offending ad depicts what some might interpret as a woman being raped while one man stands by looking rather nonchalant. In the past CK has been called down for their Heroin Chic campaign featuring super model Kate Moss, and  “kiddie porn” campaign that depicted what looked like underage models in sexually suggestive poses. Turns out, after a U.S. Justice Department investigation, those models were not underage, but you get the point, I think. So why do advertisers have to go to such extremes in order to gain our attention, and is it worth it from either a marketing point of view or from a societal perspective? I really enjoy much advertising, but sometimes campaigns like this really make me wonder. Maybe David Potter was correct way back in 1954 when he described advertising as an institution of abundance that, unlike some other institutions, lacked social responsibility. Although this is not the first ad campaign I’ve seen that depicts women in an intolerable situation, it doesn’t make it okay. I find the return to such a tired, old, and totally inappropriate advertising image, depressing. I hope Calvin Klein doesn’t try those ads out in the United States, although based on passed performance, I wouldn’t put it past them.


Alison Marshall said...

I think that ads like this should be banned not only in the U.S. or Australia, but everywhere. Ads that incorporate women and men in inappropriate situations could only be effective to a very small segment of the population. These types of ads could be a very bad influence on young boys or girls who see them. With this ad I agree with David Potter when he says that advertisements lack social responsibility. Advertisements should promote the good in people, and influence consumers to do good in society. I think it is very important for advertisers to be socially responsible. One never knows who is seeing the ad, being effective by it, and acting on the influence the ad puts out.

mmmyers2 said...

I agree completely. I don't understand why it is necessary for the ad to be so vulgar and sexual! This ad doesn't make me want to buy the product any more than a less sexual ad, so I don't see the point of this intense advertising.

I understand that sex sells. As much as I want to pretend that we don't live in a sex-obsessed society, we do. Even with that though, I believe that there's a line between what's appropriate and what's not. This ad crosses the line into vulgarity and offensiveness. It is unnecessary, and is more trouble than it's worth.

One might argue that this advertisement is "art". Again, I disagree. Having a visual representation of a woman being raped or sexually assulted against her will (no matter how attractive either party is!) is never acceptable. Advertising agencies have become so obsessed with trying to evoke an emotional response to viewers that they have lost the entire point of advertising. Advertisements are put out to the public in order to sell a product. With this ad, the product is lost, and the viewer is confused. Calvin Klein has only succeeded in offending the public.

Annie Kosch said...

I completely agree with the previous comments. I do not understand why advertisers believe this type of advertisement is effective among the public. What are they trying to tell us about our society in this ad? It is sending the wrong message to young boys and girls and I believe this image would make adults, especially parents, not buy Calvin Klein jeans because of the inappropriate position. I understand that advertiser's may be trying to "break through the clutter" with this edgy, risque ad but there has to be a more appropriate way to achieve their goal.