NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Calvin Klein is pushing the line again with one of its ads. Or maybe it isn’t.
The latest Calvin Klein billboard drawing attention from pedestrians — especially men — in the intersection of East Houston and Lafayette streets in lower Manhattan seems, to some, to include a certain sexually suggestive word.
Which word, you ask?
Well, as Ralphie put it in ‘A Christmas Story,’ it’s “THE word, the big one, the queen mother of dirty words, the F-dash-dash-dash word.”
But it’s not that simple.
The “F” word, if it’s there at all, isn’t spelled out in block letters. Not completely.
It starts with a small table in the background that’s partially blocked out by one of Calvin Klein’s typical thin and attractive young models. The table’s left leg, table top and support bar seem to form the letter F.
The model’s bikini briefs, which may have been strategically placed just to the right of the F, could be seen as a U.
Then there’s the C and K from Calvin Klein’s “CK One” logo.
Put them all together and you get what some might see as a sexually charged subliminal message.
“The ‘F’ word!” said Jean, from Manhattan, who doesn’t think the billboard is appropriate in public. “It’s subliminal messaging. I don’t think it’s healthy or good for anyone, not even just young kids.”
“I think it’s disgusting, they shouldn’t have that out here,” said Mandy, from Browns Mills, N.J.
Ashley, from Manhattan, spotted the “F” word but wasn’t so sure Calvin Klein had anything up its sleeve.
“Maybe it was a happy accident,” she said.
Perhaps, but if it was, it joins a long line of “happy accidents” that Calvin Klein has had in its ads over the years.
In the 80s, the designer made headlines with a controversial commercial that featured a 15-year-old Brooke Shields asking “Do you want to know what comes between me and my Calvins?”
(The answer: “Nothing!”)
More recently, a Calvin Klein ad featuring two men and a woman in a sexually suggestive pose was pulled in Australia because some felt it promoted group sex and/or rape.
Not everyone, however, thinks Calvin Klein was sending a subliminal sex message with its new Manhattan billboard. At least not the ‘F’ word.
“I guess you could make that argument,” said Roland, from Jersey City. “If you’re really paying attention and you’re trying to read into detail, you can make that argument, but I’m not picking it up, to be quite honest.”
Chris, visiting New York City from Portland doesn’t think the billboard needs anything extra to attract attention.
“A half naked 16-year-old should’ve been enough.”