Calvin Klein has issued an apology over criticism that one of its recent ads, featuring model Bella Hadid and a robot, was an example of “queerbaiting.” In a statement published on Twitter Friday, the clothing brand addressed backlash it received for featuring Hadid kissing a robot called Miquela ― which has its own Instagram page ― in a video for an ad campaign.
Calvin Klein acknowledged that featuring Hadid, “someone who identifies as heterosexual,” in a “same-sex kiss” could be interpreted as queerbaiting, an exploitative tactic used to tease a queer romance to draw viewers in without any intention of fully developing or representing LGBTQ people and relationships.
“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,” the statement said.
Here at CALVIN KLEIN, we welcome all types of constructive feedback from our community. We see your comments and we appreciate them. We'd like to offer our thoughts in response to comments on our campaign video featuring Bella Hadid and Lil Miquela. pic.twitter.com/OIcIekyR9K— CALVIN KLEIN (@CalvinKlein) May 17, 2019
The brand also noted in its statement that the video was intended to “promote freedom of expression for a wide range of identities, including a spectrum of gender and sexual identities.” A representative for Hadid didn’t immediately return HuffPost’s request for comment. Madison Malone Kircher, an associate editor at New York Magazine, called the ad tone-deaf on Twitter Thursday, while sarcastically noting it was released just a few weeks before Pride Month.
Lil Miquela, also known as Miquela Sousa, is a fictional character and digital art project.
Her Instagram account has amassed over a million followers, giving her a status as a social media influencer.
"There are plenty of real LGBTQ Models that could have been used", one user wrote after watching the ad.
“Who is gonna tell Calvin Klein you’re supposed to wait until June for your tone-deaf queer-bait ad campaigns!!” she wrote. “Lil miquela and bella hadid out here smooching two weeks too early!!!
who is gonna tell Calvin Klein you're supposed to wait until June for your tone-deaf queer-bait ad campaigns!! lil miquela and bella hadid out here smooching two weeks too early!!!— Madison Malone Kircher (@4evrmalone) May 16, 2019
"Life is about" what? This is a total queer bait ...— Ottavio (@OttavioGM) May 17, 2019
Bella Hadid kisses Lil Miquela in new Calvin Klein commercial ... https://t.co/FYbQMvoPwY