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ASA reverses decision on FKA Twigs’ Calvin Klein ad

By Rachel Douglass


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Calvin Klein ad starring Kendall Jenner. Credits: PVH.

Following monumental backlash at its decision to ban the ad, the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has said that it has reversed its opinion that a Calvin Klein campaign featuring FKA Twigs was “sexually explicit”.

As such, the watchdog has revoked its ban on the ad after what it said was “careful thought” that led to the conclusion that the imagery “presented FKA Twigs as confident and in control and, therefore, that she had not been objectified”.

The original ad showed the singer-songwriter partially covering her body in a denim shirt, revealing just part of her breast and bottom alongside the caption “Calvins or nothing”.

ASA had initially made the decision to ban the ad after two complaints were made that claimed the imagery was “offensive and irresponsible, because they objectified women” and were “inappropriate for display in an untargeted medium”, the latter argument of which ASA continues to stand by.

The decision was met with scrutiny from both the public and FKA Twigs, herself, who took to Instagram to criticise the “double standards” she felt were displayed by ASA, particularly in reference to similar ads by Calvin Klein – namely a recent one featuring Jeremy Allen White – that didn’t face similar reviews.

ASA said that it had not been presented with any complaints surrounding White’s ads that it could pursue, but concluded that the imagery would be “unlikely to break [its] rules”.

It also affirmed that race and identity of the women was “not relevant” to form its ruling, after it noted that it was further challenged on whether race played a part in decisions to ban the FKA Twigs poster but not similar imagery featuring Kendall Jenner.

It continued: “All of this goes to illustrate the delicate challenge of judging issues around stereotyping, objectification and harm and offence. It involves teasing out and reaching judgements on nuanced and often complex and sensitive issues.

“As part of our new five-year strategy, we’re going to review the thresholds for intervening against ads on grounds of offence and prioritise the most serious cases. We think it will always be important to act in the most serious cases of harm and offence but, where an issue is highly subjective and, more often than not, socially divisive, it may not warrant our intervention.”

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