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Company: Calvin Klein
    View Company Scorecard / Contact Company
Brand: Calvin Klein
Ad Title: August
Business Category: Fashion/Apparel
Media Outlets: Television
Country: United States
Region: North America, US Regional
Agency: Calvin Klein in-house
Year: 1995
Target: Mainstream
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Theme(s)

Sexual Predator/Practice

Theme Breakdown

AdRespect Score: 
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In an unusually controversial Calvin Klein campaign made to look like child pornography, young men are asked revealing questions by an unseen man from behind the camera.

The male interviewer says, "You have a nice look. How old are you?" The guy answers, "21" -- he's the oldest in this campaign of young men. "What's your name?" He answers "August." "Why don't you stand up. Are you strong?" August answers, "I like to think so." The interviewer than says, "So you think you can rip that shirt off of you?"

August proceeds to do just that, then the interviewer comments, "Nice body, you work out? Yeah, I can tell..."

While the other ads in the campaign included women, a number of boys were also asked by the man to remove clothing, perform and answer probing questions as well. Some of the young men are uncomfortable while others appear to be street-savvy. While research shows that pedophilia is more often perpetrated by men who identify as heterosexual, several of these ads appear to support the myth that gay men seek to molest young boys -- especially if a viewer doesn't see the interviews with young women.

Of course, fashion advertising is usually about sex, but Klein has many times created media storms over his ads. This campaign may have taken the title since President Clinton even derided the effort -- when he had his own better moral standing. Klein not only relented in response, he even issued a statement of apology.

Amazingly, the Justice Department was convinced to conduct an investigation to see if the models were "under age." This is ludicrous, since there is no age limit to being a model or actor -- the age investigation implied that the ads were actually pornographic.

Nonetheless, such advertising efforts are disingenuous, since their intent is to incite publicity, and are not unusual from fashion advertisers with small media budgets such as Klein, Diesel and Benetton.

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Robert Wiles , Concord, CA
Yeh, he's young and handsome.. and it is porno-flavored. I just don't get the kiddie porn angle you're saying in the overview. He doesnt look underage....

Paul , Seattle, Washington
This is icky.

Chris , San Diego, CA
Thanks for this site. I remember having just come in from school and flipping on the tv. This commercial came on and immediately got my attention. I thought, "this is THE coolest ad I've ever seen!" I wasn't surprised when some frigids, prudes and bible-thumpers found it too racy, but I loved it!

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