Heidi Zak, the CEO and cofounder of lingerie brand ThirdLove, has embarked on a campaign demanding Calvin Klein takes down its “offensive” billboard ad starring rapper Fetty Wap and actor Klara Kristin.
The billboard, situated in New York City, shows Kristin posing provocatively, alongside the tagline “I seduce in #mycalvins.” Adjacent to her image is a close-up of Fetty Wap’s face, with the slogan “I make money in #mycalvins.”
Zak has written a letter (read it in full below) to Calvin Klein CEO Steve Shiffman calling on the company to remove the “offensive” and billboard, which she believes is sexist.
“It’s striking that almost a century after women won the right to vote, companies like yours are still propagating these offensive and outdated gender stereotypes: Men go to work and make money, while women are nothing more than sex objects,” she writes.
Zak has also created a YouTube video outlining how she is “personally offended” by the ad.
She adds that ThirdLove and “the women of New York” are “no longer accepting this antiquated stereotype and instead are creating our own gender definitions that a women can be anything she wants to be.”
The video then sees ThirdLove asking passers-by what they think of the billboard. All of those interviewed dislike the ad and comment on how they find it inappropriate, with one woman saying: “It’s totally pedophilic. It’s disgusting.”
ThirdLove has also started up a Change.org petition, entitled “Take Down Sexist Billboard In NYC.” It had 43 signatories at the time of writing.
Calvin Klein was not immediately available for comment.
The billboard is part of a wider campaign, featuring stars such Justin Bieber, Kendall Jenner, FKA Twigs, and Kendrick Lamar apparently sharing what they love do in their Calvins.
As reported by WWD, Calvin Klein CMO Melisa Goldie explained the campaign was “representative of how culture is evolving as we speak.”
She added: “We’re bringing together a diverse mix of provocateurs with a unique collective of visual artists to create content that sparks and drives cultural conversation. Millennials reject labels when it comes to their own identities, and they want products that are personalised and individual, which we’re achieving as Calvin Klein moves toward further establishing itself as a lifestyle-centric global brand.”
ThirdLove CEO Heidi Zak’s letter to Calvin Klein CEO Steve Shiffman in full:
March 18, 2016
Attn. Mr. Steve Shiffman
CEO, Calvin Klein, Inc.
Mr. Shiffman, I’d like to talk about your new Spring 2016 campaign entitled #MyCalvins.
In New York City’s Soho neighbourhood, a mere 2.6 miles from your headquarters, your billboard shows a woman in Calvin Klein underwear with the caption “I seduce in #mycalvins” — directly alongside rapper Fetty Wap, who is known for his anti-feminist lyrics and behaviour towards his child’s mother in the media, with the text “I make money in #mycalvins.”
Is the message of Calvin Klein today that women are only good for seduction? Are we stuck in the 1950s? Are these the values of the Calvin Klein brand?
It’s striking that almost a century after women won the right to vote, companies like yours are still propagating these offensive and outdated gender stereotypes: Men go to work and make money, while women are nothing more than sex objects.
It is egregious that Calvin Klein is posting this message for millions of impressionable young women to see and internalize as to what they should aspire to.
See, you and I view the world very differently. I believe women can do anything, and that we should take every possible opportunity to teach and remind them of that. Anything less, in this day and age, is irresponsible marketing.
I’m a CEO, and I work hard. I make money just like Fetty — and I do so while wearing underwear, just like all the other amazing women out there working every day.
We should be illustrating that women do more than simply “seduce”. At ThirdLove we believe fit should come first. In fact, we believe the best bra is one you never think about. No matter the different roles a woman takes on during the day, her lingerie should make her feel confident, sexy and ready to be the best at her job, as a friend, wife or partner, mum, or CEO of a company.
And I’m not the only one shocked by your company. Your fellow New Yorkers had a lot to say: More Than My Underwear.
For the sake of the tens of thousands of women a day, young and old, who walk past this billboard, I’m starting a petition Change.org/MoreThanMyUnderwear. We are asking that your company do the right thing and remove this offensive billboard immediately. Women deserve more respect, and they certainly deserve more than what they’re getting from companies like yours.
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