Advertising Standards Authority Partially Reverses Ban on FKA Twigs Calvin Klein Ad

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FKA Twigs attends the British Vogue And Tiffany & Co. Celebrate Fashion And Film Party 2024 at Annabel's on February 18, 2024 in London, England. - Credit: Jed Cullen/Dave Benett/Getty Images
FKA Twigs attends the British Vogue And Tiffany & Co. Celebrate Fashion And Film Party 2024 at Annabel's on February 18, 2024 in London, England. - Credit: Jed Cullen/Dave Benett/Getty Images

A revised ruling from the Advertising Standards Authority has partially reversed the ban on FKA TwigsCalvin Klein advertisement. Earlier this year, the ad was banned in the U.K. on the grounds that it depicted the singer as a “stereotypical sexual object” since she was semi-nude in the photo. After the response from the public and Twigs herself, the ASA reinstated the ad in locations where it is less accessible to minors.

“Our decision to ban only the poster featuring FKA Twigs was widely criticised, not least by the singer herself. We’re not deaf to the commentary that surrounds our decision making,” the ASA shared in a statement. “We’re genuinely interested in hearing what people think and have to say. And we’re not afraid to challenge our own thinking and change our decisions if we think we’ve got it wrong.”

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When the ad was first banned, Twigs responded via social media, writing: “I do not see the ‘stereotypical sexual object’ that they have labelled me. I see a beautiful strong woman of colour whose incredible body has overcome more pain than you can imagine … I will not have my narrative changed.”

The Calvins or Nothing campaign was originally launched in March 2023 with both Twigs and Kendall Jenner as models. The ASA ban only applied to the photos of Twigs, which the advertising regulators defended in their statement.

“We have made clear that while we think the image of FKA Twigs was overtly sexual (though not sexually explicit), the ad presented her as confident and in control and, therefore, she had not been presented as a stereotypical sexual object,” the post continued. “We have, however, maintained our decision that the overtly sexual image of FKA Twigs was not suitable for display in an untargeted medium, a poster, where anyone could see it. In that regard, we thought it was materially different to the mildly sexual and sexually suggestive, but not overtly sexual, images of Kendall Jenner in the other two posters. So, the ban still applies for that reason.”

The ASA also went so far as to address Calvin Klein’s recent campaign with Jeremy Allen White, though they “didn’t receive any complaints” about it that they would be able to pursue. “The challenge was that if FKA Twigs was objectified then surely Jeremy Allen White was too?” the statement read. “We haven’t formally investigated the ads. We have, though, considered the ads in the round when reassessing the FKA Twigs poster, and our view is that the Jeremy Allen White ads would be unlikely to break our rules.”

It rejected any speculation about “whether race played a part in our decision to ban the FKA Twigs poster,” stating that “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.”

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