Before Jeremy Allen White’s Viral Calvin Klein Ad, There Were Tons of Controversial Ones

Shameless and The Bear star Jeremy Allen White‘s new Calvin Klein ads generated $12.7 million in media impact value for the company in just two days. The sexy photos reminded us of the many iconic Calvin Klein ads over the years. While the brand has remained popular since its inception in 1968, it hasn’t been without some big controversies, especially for many of its ad choices. From Marky Mark to Brooke Shields, let’s talk about a few of the most talked about ads Calvin Klein has released.

 

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Brooke Shields was only 15 years old when she appeared in the 1980 ad for Calvin Klein jeans. Do you remember the tagline? In one ad, she seductively says, “You want to know what comes between me and my Calvins? Nothing.” She admitted that she didn’t realize the ads were sexy at the time and called herself naive. Shields also revealed that she kept three pairs of the jeans after appearing in the ad and still owns two of them. She gave one pair to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and said “The other two I’m gonna frame in plexiglass, you know, a frontal and then the back.”

1980s USA Calvin Klein Magazine Advert

Retro AdArchives/Alamy Stock Photo

Just five years later, people were enraged about another Calvin Klein ad that featured three people in their underwear in a bed. Then in 1992, a few celebrities became the cause of yet another controversy. The memorable ads featuring Mark Wahlberg and model Kate Moss got attention because she was just 17 at the time. In the ads, Moss hugs Wahlberg wearing only underwear. Over the next few years, Calvin Klein decided to run with it and Moss appeared in several more ads, including one where she is clearly nude.

Calvin Klein Ad with Kate Moss

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Singer Mark Wahlberg walks the runway at the Seventh Annual California Fashion Industry Friends of AIDS Project Los Angeles (APLA) Benefit Dinner and Fashion Show to Honor Calvin Klein on June 3, 1993 at the Hollywood Bowl in Hollywood, California.

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The negative feedback didn’t stop with the ’90s but several more ads in the 2000s and beyond got attention for being raunchy and some even got removed from billboards. What’s your take on these kinds of ads? Do you agree that sex sells or think they’re too vulgar?

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June 2023

Look back at memorable celebrity endorsements, network sponsorships and just plain bizarre ads over time

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