The 1995 Calvin Klein Ad Campaign That Was Just Too Creepy

The Calvin Klein Jeans advertising campaign that stirred up so much controversy, that even the Justice Department got involved.

1. Calvin Klein was no stranger to controversy when it came to his company’s advertising campaigns, but in 1995 he really pushed the envelope.

2. The campaign shot by world famous fashion photographer Steven Meisel, featured models in what appeared to be a wood-paneled basement.

The campaign was reportedly inspired by an editorial Meisel had shoot for L’Uomo Vogue.

Source: Newsweek

3. The provocative ads were seen on television, in print, on billboards and…

Evan Agostini / Getty Images

4. …on city buses. The highly visible campaign stirred controversy and generated immediate backlash.

Evan Agostini / Getty Images

5. At best the campaign looked like amateur porn, but most parent groups felt that the images along with the [creepy] commercials were borderline child porn.

The company faced additional backlash from child welfare authorities, leaders of the Catholic League, journalists and the American Family Association.

Source: The New York Times

6. Prompted by complaints the Justice Department was forced to open an investigation into whether or not the company had violated any child pornography laws. The investigation was dropped when the company provided proof that all the models were adults.

Source: Los Angeles Times

7. On August 28, Calvin Klein, Inc., took out a full-page ad in The New York Times. They stated that they were “taken aback” that the campaign had been “misunderstood by some,” and that it was pulling the ads.

Source: The New York Times

8. Collection of Calvin Klein Jeans commercials:

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