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Cultural Jam Assignment – Calvin Klein

Original version of the Calvin Klein ad: 

Ad for Cultural Jam Assignment

The phrase “sex sells” is evident in Calvin Klein’s campaigns. The brand is notorious for producing controversial ads by using sexy and risqué images. The multinational company is not simply selling jeans or perfume but they are selling ideas of sexuality and femininity. They borrow celebrities’ fame and their images of success and perfection to sell their products.

This ad is selling “eau de toilette” which is perfume yet the product itself is not in the ad. We can only assume that the model, Kate Moss, is wearing it and the reason behind her portrayed sexiness. Calvin Klein is not selling perfume but ideas of sexual desire and reflecting that a women’s worth is based on a man. Kate Moss is naked and lying on the couch looking at the camera in a sexual and inviting way which invokes ideas of dominance and vulnerability in women. The image is also in black and white which stirs mysteriousness. Kate Moss is naked but she is lying face down and many of her features are unclear due to the contrast. She is undeniably sexy but not promiscuous because viewers cannot see the rest of her body. This speaks to the idea of how women should be sexy and attractive but appear to be innocent, pure and de-sexed.

Calvin Klein is selling the idea that their perfume will invoke obsession from men. Their marketing strategy is to invoke feelings of sex and attractiveness. They want viewers to think that this perfume will result in males to be obsessed with you. This is a very shallow and sexist marketing strategy. The text “Obsession for men” reinforces patriarchy and reflects male dominance over women. Perfume is a gendered product that society deems only acceptable for females. It is a cultural symbol associated with females and toxic for males. Furthermore, Calvin Klein is also selling that the idea that this perfume could also make you look as “sexy”, appealing, and attractive as Kate Moss in the ad. The ad conveys society’s ideal body shapes for females using Kate Moss’s petite body. Her feminine elements draw upon the ideal perceptions of beauty. Calvin Klein is using her body to mislead their female audience that the perfume will make you sexier and attract men. Calvin Klein uses the female body to encourage sexual fantasies in men and also uses ideas of sex and attraction to entice females into purchasing their products.

Jammed version of the Calvin Klein ad: 

Jammed version of ad

The jammed up version of my ad is designed to reveal the truth behind this marketing campaign. Instead of “Obsession for men”, I’ve put “Sex for men” which reflects the idea that “sex sells” very well in society. I’ve also lightened the contrast so that viewers can see her body features more clearly. This is to demonstrate that she is bare and she is selling sex and not simply the idea of sex. This ad is selling the idea that using CK perfume will encourage male obsession and I’ve included the text “Men want me” to reflect that message.

My hope for this jammed up version of the original ad is to debunk some of the messages for younger females who view this ad. I want to reveal that large companies use sexual imagery to sell products and in this process, a women’s body is devalued. I want to ensure that females realize these truths and think critically about what they see in the media. I also want to tell females that exploitation of the female body to market a product is disrespectful. The idea of obsession from men should not be encouraged because it leads to sexual abuse and rape. Women should empower one another and realize that sexual imagery of the female body is not to be encouraged.

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