Advertising News South Africa

UK's ASA changes stance on controversial Calvin Klein ad with FKA twigs

The case involving the UK's Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) and the Calvin Klein advertisement featuring British singer FKA twigs has been partially overturned.
FKA twigs stars in the controversial ad. Source: Calvin Klein.
FKA twigs stars in the controversial ad. Source: Calvin Klein.

Initially, the ASA had banned the advertisement Calvins or nothing ad, saying it was sexually explicit and objectifying of women. However, following a reevaluation prompted by public outcry, the ASA has reversed its decision, acknowledging the "strength of public feeling" and determining that the image did not meet the criteria for objectification.

"Our decision to ban only the poster featuring FKA Twigs was widely criticised, not least by the singer herself. We’re not deaf to the commentary that surrounds our decision making. We’re genuinely interested in hearing what people think and have to say. And we’re not afraid to challenge our own thinking and change our decisions if we think we’ve got it wrong," the ASA said in a statement.

But the authority said although she is not being objectified, the ad is still too sexual to be on a poster.

"We have, however, maintained our decision that the overtly sexual image of FKA Twigs was not suitable for display in an untargeted medium, a poster, where anyone could see it. In that regard, we thought it was materially different to the mildly sexual and sexually suggestive, but not overtly sexual, images of Kendall Jenner in the other two posters. So, the ban still applies for that reason."

At the time, FKA twigs said this in her response to the ban: "I do not see the ‘stereotypical sexual object’ that they have labelled me. I see a beautiful strong woman of colour whose incredible body has overcome more pain than you can imagine.

"In light of reviewing other campaigns past and current of this nature, I can’t help but feel there are some double standards here. So to be clear…I am proud of my physicality and hold the art I create with my vessel to the standards of women like Josephine Baker, Eartha Kitt and Grace Jones who broke down barriers of what it looks like to be empowered and harness a unique embodied sensuality. thank you to Calvin Klein and Mert and Marcus who gave me a space to express myself exactly how I wanted to - I will not have my narrative changed," she said.

About Karabo Ledwaba

Karabo Ledwaba is a Marketing and Media Editor at Bizcommunity and award-winning journalist. Before joining the publication she worked at Sowetan as a content producer and reporter. She was also responsible for the leadership page at SMag, Sowetan's lifestyle magazine. Contact her at
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