- Calvin Klein has apologised for an ad that featured Bella Hadid kissing a computer-generated model after backlash about its representation of LGBTQ couples.
- Hadid appears alongside Lil Miquela, a controversial influencer and model who sparked confusion before it was revealed she was a digital project.
- The brand tweeted a day after the ad was released to apologise for what some called “queer-baiting,” and said the campaign sought to celebrate “expression for a wide range of identities, including a spectrum of gender and sexual identities.”
- The brand’s “I Speak My Truth in #MyCalvins” campaign has featured several breakout music and television stars in videos released last week.
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Calvin Klein has apologised for an ad that featured Bella Hadid kissing a computer-generated model after backlash on social media about LGBTQ representation.
The video features Hadid in a t-shirt and bike shorts by the brand before she is approached by the AI-generated model known as Lil Miquela.
“Life is about opening doors,” Hadid says in a voiceover, caressing Miquela’s face. “Creating new dreams, that you never knew could exist.”
In a description for the video, the brand writes that “19-year-old robot Lil Miquela blurs the lines of truth and fiction with Bella Hadid. Is this a dream or real?”
The ad was met with confused and disappointed responses from some social media users, one of whom accused the brand of producing a “tone-deaf” ad and “queer-baiting.”
who is gonna tell Calvin Klein you're supposed to wait until June for your tone-deaf queer-bait ad campaigns!! lil miquela and bella hadid out here smooching two weeks too early!!!
— Madison Malone Kircher (@4evrmalone) May 16, 2019
According to The Independent’s Chelsea Ritschel, queer-baiting is when “straight celebrities hint at being queer in songs, interviews, or music videos so that their sexuality becomes ambiguous. While appealing to LGBTQ+ fans, queer-baiting also avoids alienating a main audience by never fully embracing a queer sexuality.”
The brand tweeted Saturday morning to “welcome all types of constructive feedback from our community,” and to “offer our thoughts in response to comments.”
In a statement, the brand said that the “concept for our latest #MYCALVINS campaign is to promote freedom of expression for a wide range of identities, including a spectrum of gender and sexual identities.”
Here at CALVIN KLEIN, we welcome all types of constructive feedback from our community. We see your comments and we appreciate them. We'd like to offer our thoughts in response to comments on our campaign video featuring Bella Hadid and Lil Miquela. pic.twitter.com/OIcIekyR9K
— calvinklein (@CalvinKlein) May 17, 2019
The series has already featured breakout music and television stars including Billie Eilish, Chika Oranika, Noah Centineo, Shawn Mendes in videos released earlier this week.
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