ASA Revises Calvin Klein Ruling

On 6 March 2024, the ASA after careful considerations, republished its ruling on Calvin Klein's April 2023 marketing campaign.
UK Media, Telecoms, IT, Entertainment
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Who: The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) and Calvin Klein Inc. (Calvin Klein)

Where: United Kingdom

When: 6 March 2024

Law stated as at: 18 March 2024

What happened:

On 6 March 2024, the ASA after careful considerations, republished its ruling on Calvin Klein's April 2023 marketing campaign.

The campaign included three posters and the revision concerns the first one which showcased singer FKA Twigs wearing a denim shirt drawn halfway around her body, exposing the side of her buttocks and half of one breast. The text at the top of the poster read "Calvins or nothing."

In its first ruling, the ASA held that the first poster presented FKA Twigs as a stereotypical sexual object, which was considered irresponsible and likely to cause serious offence. The ASA has revisited its decision on this ad and changed its ruling in relation to the first complaint, namely that the ad was offensive and irresponsible, because it objectified women.

The ASA noted that in cases where it is to be assessed whether an ad is likely to cause harm or offence, its decisions follow a more subjective than objective process. After receiving criticism and its careful review, the ASA changed its decision.

The ASA decided not to uphold a complaint on this ad in relation to the first complaint and concluded that the ad was unlikely to be seen as irresponsible or cause serious or widespread offence on the basis of sexual objectification. The ASA explained that even though the ad focused on the model's body, the image was not sexually explicit and presented FKA Twigs as confident and in control.

The regulator, however, remained its decision on the second compliant in relation to this ad, namely that the ad was inappropriate for display in an untargeted medium where it could be visible to anyone. The ASA highlighted that such ads as posters should be targeted appropriately since people "can't opt-out of seeing an outdoorposter" and special emphasis should be on protection of children. The ASA ruled that the first ad featuring FKA Twigs must not appear again as a poster in an untargeted medium.

Why this matters:

The ASA notes that this revision is an illustration of how challenging it might be to rule on issues around stereotyping, objectification and harm and offence since these issues are often complex and sensitive. The regulator states that it is willing to listen to public's opinion when judging on what is and isn't likely to cause harm or offence and is ready to challenge its own decision.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

ASA Revises Calvin Klein Ruling

UK Media, Telecoms, IT, Entertainment

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