Calvin Klein, Inc. and the Kiddie Porn Ads (A, B)

Authors: Naumes, Margaret J.; Naumes, William
Source: North America Case Research Association, Case Research Journal, Summer, 1999; The Laurier Institute
Year: 1999
Company Name: Calvin Klein, Inc.
Number of pages: 14

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Calvin Klein Inc. is a company with a history of controversial advertising, going back to 1980's ads with then 15-year-old actress Brooke Shields saying, "Nothing comes between me and my Calvins." In 1995, the company began a new series of ads for Calvin Klein jeanswear, featuring young models in suggestive poses. The (A) case describes the company and the controversy generated by the new ad campaign. The ads began in early July and ran in several magazines, including one read by girls as young as 12. Other publishers felt that the ads approached pornography. Dayton Hudson department stores refused to lift their stores in the ads. The American Family Association, a conservative Christian Group, threatened boycotts of retailers who carried the jeans. News programs identified one of the models as 15 years old. By late August, the company faced growing pressure to do something about its ads-but what? In the (B) case the controversy escalated, as the FBI announced an investigation into whether the ads were child pornography, and others became concerned about possible censorship.  

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