Calvin Klein debuted an ad showcasing a kiss between Bella Hadid and Lil Miquela, the Instagram-famous digital avatar which drew much back lash from the gay community.
The brand was accused of queer-baiting which prompted the fashion house to issue an apology.
The 30-second spot, released on May 16, opens with Bella standing alone in a Calvin crop top and shorts, where she is soon joined by Lil Miquela.
As the model and robot turn to face one another, a voice-over begins: “Life is about opening doors. Creating new dreams that you never knew could exist.”
As the audio gives way to music, Bella pulls Lil Miquela in for a kiss, and the camera slowly fades to black. “Nineteen-year-old robot Lil Miquela blurs the lines of truth and fiction with Bella Hadid,” CK’s caption reads on YouTube. “Is this a dream or real?”
While some fans zeroed in on the technology behind a human-avatar kiss, others weren’t happy about the kiss itself, with many calling the ad an example of queer-baiting.
In response to fans complaints, Calvin Klein issued a statement the following day, via Twitter, noting that the concept for their entire #MyCalvinscampaign revolves around “freedom of expression” for a wide range of identities.
“The specific campaign was created to challenge conventional norms and stereotypes in advertising. In this particular video, we explored the blurred lines between reality and imagination.”
The brand’s statement went on to address the backlash. “We understand and acknowledge how featuring someone who identifies as heterosexual in a same-sex kiss could be perceived as queer-baiting,”
Calvin Klein wrote. “As a company with a longstanding tradition of advocating for LGBTQ+ rights, it was certainly not our intention to misrepresent the LGBTQ+ community. We sincerely regret any offense we caused.”
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