Cultural Jam Assignment

Brief Analysis of Original Ad

Calvin Klein has continuously been a fashion innovator, pushing the boundaries with their clothing and advertisements. In an article titled “The Most Controversial Calvin Klein Ads” by Karizza Sanchez in Complex, the author states “google “Calvin Klein ads” and you’re likely to see some of the most provocative campaigns around. […] In its 45 years, the brand has been criticising for promoting gang rape, violence, child pornography and drug use” (Sanchez, 2013).

The ad that I chose for this assignment is the 1993 Calvin Klein fragrance campaign for men titled ‘Obsession’. At the time Kate Moss was around 18 years old and the photographer Mario Sorenti was 20, most importantly I need to acknowledge through my research is that Moss and Sorenti entered into a romantic relationship during this time. The interesting aspect of this ad is that it is indirectly telling a larger narrative that we are witnessing in the media today. The hidden story behind the model and the photographer exposes the issues surrounding the fetishization of young women along with, the romanticization surrounding the ideal narrative of heteronormativity within the product that is being sold.

The issue that I will be addressing is the disconnect between the product and the ad. The product in which Calvin Klein is selling is a fragrance for men, therefore why is there a naked woman posing for this ad? Moreover, the language used for this ad campaign “Obsession…for men”. There is a clear gap and use of women’s sexual desire used in this ad, specially the time in which Kate Moss embodied the young desirable woman. Many argued that Moss is representing a new type of women in which she is a young heroin. Kate Moss’ use of body and facial expression engages the “manly” consumer in way that is not only sexually desirable but increases the idealistic ways in which women chase men based on their physicality. I want to acknowledge the natural beauty that Moss is presenting, however the ways in which Calvin Klein uses a women’s body to sell a product reproduces the neo-liberal and heteropatrichal state that we are continuously acting and behaving in.

Brief Explanation of the Jamming Philosophy

For this cultural jam assignment, I choose the 1993 Kate Moss Calvin Klein fragrance campaign for men titled ‘Obsession’. I acknowledge that this ad obtains many issues surrounding the fetishization of young women and the ideal coupling of heteronormativity. However, when I deleted the words surrounding Moss’s picture the ad unveiled a very different narrative. The natural beauty of Moss and the use of her body as art. Therefore, with a new presentation of this ad, I chose to use the combination of words: I am, empowerment and women. I aimed to engage critically with the women’s body instead of exploiting it for the sexualized desire that Calvin Klein originally used the body for. The idea here was to reclaim Moss’s body to reintroduce the ad as something for women and by women. Previously when this ad was born in 1993 many argued that Moss was embodying a heroin, I agree, however she was not presented as a heroin in her own right. Instead her beauty was used as a standard for the neo-liberal heteronormative state.

By evoking inclusive and intersectional language this ad reveals a type of women empowerment that is needed to today. As women, specifically racialized women there is a need for reclaiming of bodies and strength. Moss is restoring this ad to be more than simply a product to be sold. There is a type of resistance that exposes the feminist discourse of women’s bodies are not to be exploited, sold, or consumed. Moss’ voice in this new ad is not silenced by the words ‘Obsession… for men’ instead the heroism that her body language is presenting is supported with a feministic lens.


Sanchez, K. (2016, December 01). The Most Controversial Calvin Klein AdsBrooke Shields.        Complex. Retrieved February 16, 2018, from  

Mau, D. (2017, June 21). Calvin Klein Unearths Unseen ’90s Kate Moss Footage for New ‘Obsessed’ Fragrance Campaign. Retrieved February 16, 2018, from

Krupnick, E. (2013, September 11). The Man Behind Calvin Klein’s Iconic Obsession        Ads,Robert R. Taylor, Dies. The Huffington Post. Retrieved February 16, 2018, from      photos_n_3906029.html

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