Calvin Klein Ad Campaign -- Featuring 'Sexting' -- Takes Risqué to a Questionable Level

At some point we really need to ask ourselves what is just too much. A veteran brand is raising eyebrows as its Fall 2015 Calvin Klein Jeans campaign features seductive images of lovers embracing the art of "sexting."


In case you've been trying to avoid today's popular tech lingo, sexting is when you send someone a sexually explicit message on your phone. And now you may wonder why ads like this are really needed to sell a pair of jeans.

"Our past campaigns have been more image-driven and this one was about starting a conversation through provocation," Calvin Klein chief marketing officer Melisa Goldie told WWD. "We’re highlighting the truth about dating -- the meet up, the hookup, and the freedom that you have through the digital dating landscape and how instantaneous it is."

Partnering with the popular dating website Tinder, these ads are in your face as they aim to put a spotlight on "raw texts" and "real stories." Even the featured video makes you forget you're watching an ad about jeans as the content is too steamy for daytime.

Gone are the days when people would clutch their pearls at the thought of sex. Can anyone remember the "controversial" Calvin Klein ad in 1980 that featured Brooke Shields? A teenager at the time, Brooke caught fire for asking if we knew what came between her and her Calvins (the answer was nothing). Who knows how many people suffered from heart attacks at the thought of the beautiful teen going commando ... but it really wasn't that serious.

When it comes to grabbing people's attention through the use of sexual images, Calvin Klein has had no problems. Over the years, the fashion label pushed the envelope with campaigns that, needless to say, stole your attention.

Obviously when selling underwear you might need to show it off -- which is exactly what Calvin Klein has no issue doing. You might remember this 1992 ad that put Mark 'Marky Mark' Wahlberg and his package front and center.

Mark Wahlberg in a 1992 ad for Calvin Klein Underwear.

Posted by Calvin Klein on Saturday, February 22, 2014

Then there was this early '90s Kate Moss ad that left little to the imagination. Even amid controversy, some didn't see an issue with this considering you can often wear less with a bathing suit.

Kate Moss in a 1993 ad for Calvin Klein Underwear.

Posted by Calvin Klein on Friday, February 28, 2014

Even Justin Bieber helped to carry the Calvin underwear torch with this ad that earned the fashion label a cool 120,000 likes on Instagram.

Believe it. @justinbieber + @lara_stone for Calvin Klein. #mycalvins

A photo posted by Calvin Klein (@calvinklein) on

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Seeing a person in his or her underwear is nothing new. In fact, it might be considered conservative these days as people and companies are always pushing the envelope. Some might think Kendall Jenner's ad that promotes next-to-nothing jean shorts and an almost nip-slip top is no big deal.

Times are a changing when it comes to marketing. There's no denying how much of an impact sex can have on a consumer's desire to look and feel their best. If they can get you to buy what they're selling (more than likely overpriced), then why wouldn't they do everything in their power to entice you?

While racy images of people in jeans aren't anything new, the thought of promoting -- among other topics -- sexting, one-night-stands, and threesomes has some asking for more ethical advertising. Sexting in particular might not be a big deal to adults, but it is becoming more and more popular among teens -- sometimes younger.

It is estimated that 40 percent of teens have sent sexually charged messages -- with girls more likely to send nude photos. If that's not bad enough, more than half of those who receive "sexts" share them with others. Sure teens make bonehead decisions, but why encourage certain behavior through ads and campaigns that make them look cool, or simply a part of everyday life?

Even if you don't feel the media has an ounce of responsibility to consider the message it would like to convey, at some point, you need to ask yourself when is enough enough? This Calvin Klein 2009 "orgy" ad that appeared to target teens wasn't widely accepted (it was removed). Perhaps those who look to balance the scale of good marketing and inappropriate content will take issue with this collection, too.

We now live in a digital age that constantly bombards us with information. Is there no longer a way to sell a quality product without crossing any lines?


Images via Calvin Klein/Facebook

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