Calvin Klein Stirs Up Controversy With "Sexist" NYC Billboard
The offending ad spurred a petition for its removal.
Calvin Klein has drummed up controversy yet again.
CEO of lingerie brand ThirdLove Heidi Zak launched a petition arguing for the removal of a SoHo billboard Friday morning, arguing that the juxtaposition of two images from Calvin Klein's spring 2016 #MyCalvins underwear campaign was offensive to women.
The Mad Libs-style campaign images feature a bevy of A-listers including Kendall Jenner, Justin Bieber, Kendrick Lamar and FKA Twigs. The advertisement in question, however, features actress Klara Kristin with the text, "I seduce in #mycalvins," next to rapper Fetty Wap, whose image is accompanied with the text, "I make money in #mycalvins."
The series features a wide range of verbs used to fill in the blank (Jenner's campaign image reads "I crush in #mycalvins," while Bieber's reads "I bieber in #mycalvins"), however, it is the juxtaposition of the two images on the SoHo corner that incited anger.
"The billboard propagates an archaic and offensive gender stereotype that women are nothing more than sexual objects, while men are the breadwinners," wrote Zak in her Change.org petition. "Are we stuck in the 1950s?"
Along with the petition, Zak also posted a video in which she interviewed women about the billboard. "It's terrible," said one passerby. "I'm not happy about it, and I won't give Calvin Klein my money."
Zak claimed, "Women can do anything," using the opportunity to prop up her own company, ThirdLove, as a foil to Calvin Klein. "We believe that no matter the different roles a woman takes on during the day, her lingerie should make her feel confident, sexy and ready to be the best at her job, as a friend, wife or partner, mom or CEO of a company," she wrote.
In a statement to The Hollywood Reporter on Friday afternoon, Calvin Klein confirmed that the ad has since been taken down, though not in response to Zak's request. "This billboard was taken down overnight as part of the planned rotation of our spring 2016 advertising campaign," read the statement. "We take all of our consumers' concerns seriously, and as a global brand, we promote gender equality and the breakdown of gender stereotypes across the world. Our global advertising campaign images feature many different musicians, artists and models wearing all of our product categories, including our underwear products, sharing how they feel about and live in their Calvins."
This isn't Calvin Klein's first billboard-related controversy. Last spring, a graffiti artist named KATSU used a drone to deface Kendall Jenner's Calvin Klein denim billboard, also located in SoHo.