22 Oct

Calvin Klein recently had its denim-clad bottie smacked in the US and Australia when its new TV spot for CK Jeans veered too close to porn for the advertising standards folks.

The ad in question, which the Authorities deemed to glorify gang rape, features model Lara Stone being rolled around against a chain link fence by a bunch of pretty boys.

You can watch the 40-second video here and decide for yourself.

Never one to take it lying down, Calvin Klein has hit back with this poster, recently unveiled in New York and coming to a billboard near you. QR technology allows smartphone users to read the imbedded codes and see the controversial ad for themselves.

So what are the issues here?

> Is the TV ad pornographic? You tell us. My opinion is that it is not, but my definition of pornography is different than yours.

> Is the ad appropriate for public media? Clearly, at least in the US and Australia, the Authorities deem it not. They called it porn. Soft and suggestive, rather than explicit, but too much for public consumption.

> Is pornography OK then as long as its aimed at smartphone users?

Is this the start of a well-lubed slope that will allow marketers to push increasingly risqué advertising into public spaces?

Now back to that video for another think…


17 Responses to “Smartporn”

  1. brainstormingconsultants October 22, 2010 at 5:48 am #

    Did Jerry Falwell or Pat Robertson have anything to do with rating this video. Almost anything they don’t like falls under the heading of “porn” and that probably includes “management porn” which is “Graphs, diagrams and meaningless reports produced solely for the gratification of management.”

    This video is another form of art.

  2. Amy October 22, 2010 at 7:08 am #

    Racy? Definitely. Porn? Absolutely not.
    If this is porn then half the stuff aired on tv after 9:00 pm is porn and every PG-13 movie ever made is porn.
    Just give the ad a rating like movies. Only show it during times of the day when children should be asleep. Make it so when you use your smartphone to view the ad you have to confirm that you are 18.
    Just like anything else – if you are offended, then don’t watch. If you are a child, where the frick are your parents?

    “well-lubed slope” – funny!

  3. dougbrowncreative October 22, 2010 at 8:07 am #

    > Well Brian, the public judgement over potentially pornographic material always seems to land in the laps of the conservative bodies because their moral outrage is greater than the call for freedom of expression.

    >I like your idea of age confirmation on your smartphone Amy. How you enforce that I don’t know. It probably functions as a loophole for advertisers like Calvin Klein. But at least it draws attention to content. Funny how worked up people get about writhing bodies and yet Grand Theft Auto 8 is huge with 12 year olds.

  4. Amy October 22, 2010 at 8:31 am #

    Oh, don’t get me started on how extreme violence is a-okay but sex and nudity is poison that corrupts young minds and turns people into perverts. Urg!

  5. amy joseph October 22, 2010 at 9:36 am #

    What happened to the good ol’ days when Gino Vannelli rules the airwaves? Harrumph.

  6. dougbrowncreative October 22, 2010 at 12:32 pm #

    Wow, that’s a lot of Amys commenting on the post today!

    > Amy, we are a twisted, messed-up society. The French have always known this.

    > Amy, I haven’t seen “Harrumph” in print since…well, Gino Vannelli ruled the airwaves.

  7. Reg October 22, 2010 at 12:54 pm #

    Funny how this blog posting has incited more reaction than normal, eh?

    Ha ha.

    I agree with all the commentary above.

    I think Amy’s right about having some way to control younger audiences’ viewership, but that has proven extremely hard to manage, even for vigilant, caring parents. Witness the stink this week over the cast of Glee (yes, guilty as charged) posing very suggestively in the latest issue of GQ. While GQ is not targeted at kids, the show has a huge following and kids will look for the material AND, I would argue, will be influenced by it, even if the actors are certainly understood to be well into their 20s, unlike their high-school age characters. Although I’m not offended and think the photography is quite artistic, I’d argue the GQ photo spread crosses a line moreso than the CK ad, due in part, at least, to the highly influential and -watched-by-teens nature of the show.

    And they both also share another thing in common: buzz. Whether strategically planned to do so or not, these messages and content have been given far greater exposure through the controversy they drum up as a result of ‘treading a fine line’, e.g. Entertainment Tonight is seemingly in a frenzy over the Glee photo shoot — as if teenagers are NOT going to hear about/see it all, anyway.

    This brings up one other point: I think marketers know that their content will be seen now, so a “ban” really is arguably increasingly meaningless. That the US or Australia have banned the CK ad is likely not a problem for the CK execs, assuming the amount of buzz this controversy has created has driven viewership to the “banned ads” site on YouTube, just as Doug’s post has done here. Heck, I’m a case in point: hadn’t heard about the ad, or the stink, but Doug’s helped propagate the message further, and I’m sure American and Australian audiences are accessing the content, anyway.

    Still, both the GQ and CK ads are ploys to sell product and, like it or not, as we all know, sex sells — and I’m betting some marketers think (know?) that titillation and/or controversy sell even more. Where the line is drawn still appears to be highly subjective.

    And as for Gino Vannelli, well, AJ, I don’t know where to begin on that comment….

  8. dougbrowncreative October 22, 2010 at 1:02 pm #

    Reg I agree that a ban doesn’t hurt the advertiser. Arguably it helps. CK is no stranger to this tactic and I suspect they strategized beyond the ban and knew very well what they were doing from the outset. I think CK plays this game rather well. The one thing that sells better than sex is controversy.

  9. mike fromowitz October 22, 2010 at 6:35 pm #

    Surely CK didn’t want this to be banned. However, if they did, they got away with a spot that is simply a bunch of photos editing together. For me, it’s a boring spot-better they shoot one great photo and show it to me in a magazine. I guess one can read almost anything in to this one-tell the story any which way you’d like it told. Why do i find it boring? Too many ‘cool’ guys, and not enough gorgeous babes. Did we really need the boob shot in there? Don’t think so. I’ve seen sexier than that with their clothes on. This is 3 out of 10 spot. CK–you should know better. Where’s the ‘attitude’? What is the ‘attitude’? What are you trying to say?–that “CK makes sexy jeans”? C’mon now! -Give me a break. This is the 21st century, and we’ve all seen far better than this.

  10. brainstormingconsultants October 22, 2010 at 6:51 pm #

    Well Glee has done it as well. Some of the cast from Glee graced the cover of CQ this month and their calling it soft porn as well.

  11. dougbrowncreative October 22, 2010 at 7:12 pm #

    > Mike you find it boring because it is. Intensely boring. Even the mannequin and the skinny studs look bored. But it’s the NUMBERS involved that CK is hoping will take their schlock tactics to the next level. Before it was just: emaciated heroine addict; emaciated porn star; emaciated porn couple. Now it’s emaciated gang banging. CK is right up there with Telus as far as I’m concerned. Their campaigns did their dash years ago. Thanks for that comment.

    > Brain, but you have to shell out money for Glee/GQ porn. CK porn is FREE.

  12. brainstormingconsultants October 22, 2010 at 8:06 pm #

    Doug, it’s called marketing.

  13. Prof. Janni Aragon October 23, 2010 at 6:03 am #

    Do I think it’s pornography? No, but we live in a hypersexualized world and this is yet another example of it. Is it artistic and tasteful, no. I’ve seen so many CK ads that try to push the envelope and this is yet another.

    I do think that they wanted the controversy so that the ad would go viral and become more popular. For months magazines have offered the option of using smart phones to check out more information, so this is not a new thing.

  14. amy joseph October 23, 2010 at 2:02 pm #

    It’s probably too late in the day to interject with this, but this is the print ad from the CK campaign and I think it’s easier to see the “gang rape” angle here than in the video:

    But it’s still tired and boring, isn’t it?

    I thought these CK ads were far more interesting yet skeevy:

    They too were banned.

    It’s funny how the Gap is dying but Calvin is still flourishing, with fairly similar advertising styles. The latest H&M ads take up where Gap left off. All Richard Avedon rips offs–white background, gritty urban kids in various stages of youth, beauty and up-front sexuality. Pioneered in 1969. Stale but still going in 2010.

    (Please don’t click if nudity offends:)

  15. dougbrowncreative October 23, 2010 at 5:24 pm #

    > Never too late for comments Amy, especially ones that move the conversation into interesting new areas like this one.

    I think the last link, with the full frontal nudity brings the other Amy’s peeve back in focus. Nudity isn’t sex if the models are just standing there like that. It’s just nudity. Wonder what the censors have to say about that. Are people likely to find nudity “offensive”. Of course they are. Why? And what’s with the chick with the penis anyway? haha. Made me laugh.

    Thanks for the fantastic comment and links Josue!

    > Prof. Janni, I guess the difference between targeted magazine ads and the outdoor billboard is that the billboard is free and available to anyone walking by, including teens. As another commenter pointed out, there are ways of keeping content away from kids in targeted media, even TV. Billboard not so much. I appreciate your comment and perspective.


  1. FYI « 84 perCENT Blog - October 22, 2010

    Is Calvin Klein producing porn commercials?

  2. Auto Backlinker - September 22, 2011

    Automatic Backlinking…

    […]Smartporn « We make it all better[…]…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Amy C. Amy Do.

Amy fall down.

Son of the Morning Light

Just another guy with a camera

the Blacklight Arrow

David Blacker's Blog

TV Amanda

Blogging about all things tv, advertising & marketing

Ballentine Media Inc.

Vancouver Small and New Business Branding, Design and Social Media Strategy


BriWrites: Brian Hartz's Blog

%d bloggers like this: