Mar 8, 2024 2 min read

Advertising regulator changes its mind about FKA Twigs ad for Calvin Klein

When the UK advertising regulator said a Calvin Klein ad featuring FKA Twigs was “likely to cause serious offence”, the musician hit back on social media. Now the Advertising Standards Authority has changed its mind, though still says that the ad shouldn’t have been displayed in the street

Advertising regulator changes its mind about FKA Twigs ad for Calvin Klein

The UK's Advertising Standards Authority has partly changed its ruling regarding a Calvin Klein ad campaign that featured FKA Twigs

The regulator previously concluded that the advert presented the musician "as a stereotypical sexual object" and was therefore "irresponsible and likely to cause serious offence". But it decided to review that decision based on the "strength of public feeling" and "views expressed by FKA Twigs" herself. 

Earlier this week it published its revised decision, stating that the ad "showed FKA Twigs wearing an unbuttoned denim shirt loosely worn over one shoulder and drawn halfway across her otherwise naked body, revealing the side of one breast and the side of her bottom. Although that drew viewers’ attention to the model’s body, we considered the image was not sexually explicit, and the ad presented a woman who appeared to be confident and in control". 

Following the original ASA ruling in January, FKA Twigs posted on Instagram, "I do not see the ‘stereotypical sexual object’ that they have labelled me [as]. I see a beautiful strong woman of colour whose incredible body has overcome more pain than you can imagine". 

Calvin Klein itself pointed out that the advert featuring FKA Twigs was similar in style to others it has produced in the past, featuring both women and men. Those other ads were alluded to in FKA Twigs' Instagram post. She wrote, "In light of reviewing other campaigns past and current of this nature, I can’t help but feel there are some double standards here". 

Although the ASA has backtracked on its conclusion that the FKA Twigs ad would "cause serious offence", it upheld its decision that the ad should not have been distributed through an untargeted medium - ie posters in the street - where there is no targeting of the audience and the ads can be seen by children. 

On that, the regulator says, "we considered FKA Twig’s seductive gaze, pouting lips and the positioning of the shirt revealing the side of one breast and the side of her bottom, when taken in combination, meant the image was overtly sexual and was, therefore, not suitable for display in an untargeted medium".

As a result, the ad "must not appear again as a poster in an untargeted medium. We told Calvin Klein Inc to ensure that future ads were targeted appropriately".

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