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.

Do you think the new add is sending the wrong message? Sound off below

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.”

Comments (73)
  1. Watcher says:

    I guess CK feels it has to do something to sell it’s over-priced items. Anything to attract attention.

  2. Jim Stewart says:

    Are you kidding me! This actually made news?

  3. eternalgreenknight says:

    Wait, there’s text on the billboard? LOL

  4. Joe Nicholson says:

    “Do you think the new add is sending the wrong message? Sound off below”
    The ad simply cooked the brain of the author, who now doesn’t know the difference between “ad” and “add.”

  5. John says:

    the problem with Lara Stone leaning over in her underwear is that the poster spells out the F-word? I would love to watch The Lion King with you guys. Maybe point out that Simba killed Scar. Yes, I see it, but whether it was intentiona­l wasn’t the point here.

  6. floyd bannister says:

    everything good in life is now over for me since i’ve seen this ad. i can’t face the harsh reality of going on for even one more minute knowing that calvin klein has ruined civilization as we know it…and i thought charlie sheen was the devil. no, it’s calvin. oy, what next?

  7. Sully says:

    Wow people really have nothing better to do with their lives

  8. Ian says:

    Never mind all that, just LOOK AT THE SIZE OF HER HANDS!!

  9. DEVON says:


    1. Doraemon says:

      Uhm. The Dutch model – Lara Stone – is from 1983. That makes her 27(!)

  10. Geo says:

    Personally, it seems like a lot of wishful thinking… one can pick up some type of pattern in any picture. Seems a bit of a stretch. Get off it…

  11. Mike says:

    Do you think the new add is sending the wrong message? Sound off below

    Do you think a journalist would know the difference between Add(as in mathematics) or ad ( as in advertising)

  12. Rodin says:

    I just try to stay away from NYC, period — no subway rats or food fights, no pregnant black girls or blond bimbos on billboards, no bicycle lane controversies, no Ground Zero mosques, no Wieners whining about statues. Had it with it all! Who cares?

    1. ____ says:

      stray cats? mmmmeeeeeeooooowwwww!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  13. Jessica says:

    You know, I never noticed till the article pointed it out…

  14. Tracy Morse says:

    There always has to be one person that has to find fault in everything. With the stretch of the imagination, you can see it, but that is a big stretch.

  15. SallysF says:

    It’s not subliminal. It’s right there.

  16. Dan Tanner says:

    That’s right. I wasn’t reading.

  17. Dan Tanner says:

    That’s right. I wasn’t reading…

  18. jason says:

    The best way to express your disgust with the Calvin Klein brand is to not purchase any of his products. As a gay man, I’ve decided to do this. I find Calvin to be the king of sleazy, irrelevant advertising where women are frequently objectified for reasons that have nothing to do with the product.

    Calvin is just one step short of being a pornographer.

    1. James Nelson says:

      “women are frequently objectified”
      From which dictionary did you find the word “objectified?” I’d like to begin using the word but need a source to defend myself in the future.

    2. Marcus says:

      true about the porn….never liked his overpriced brand anyway.

  19. william says:

    I’m not a psychiatrist, but my evaluation of the complaintees are that they are the same head cases that saw Elvis recently. You gotta love them….

    1. James Nelson says:

      You don’t need a Phd. to spot a fruitcake.

  20. anthony says:

    This is a great example of reading between the lines. But I think people are making a bit much of this.

  21. jason says:

    As a gay man, I find this ad offensive. I won’t be purchasing any more Calvin Klein products. I think he’s a vile little man. The woman who appears in this ad is gross and disgusting, and appeals to the sleazy straight guy fantasy.

    There’s enough sexist advertising – especially of women – out there as it is. Calvin Klein and his organization will no longer be getting my business.

    1. K says:

      Gay men are the ones most likely behind this ad. Being that your gay, you might be unaware that straight men like women with curves. This anorexic type is a gay male, female fashionista ideal.

    2. James Nelson says:

      That’s good. There will be less of a crowd there when I go shopping.

  22. mg says:

    why is cbs promoting this ad?

    1. James Nelson says:

      M O N E Y ! !

  23. Rodin says:

    Here, be creative, have some fun and enjoy a good laugh.

    Select Photos From Erica Simone’s ‘Nue York: Self Portraits of a Bare Urban Citizen’

  24. Rodin says:

    This wuz lotsa fun until all the “deep thinkers” decided to join in.

    Lighten up and get a life !!!!! This is NOT about black embryos endangered in the womb….

  25. Nate says:

    @jrobinson It’s not speaking to your concious mind. Of course “FU” would offend my concious mind but my subconcious might interperet things differently.

    1. Nate says:

      O I read you wrong. Saying F U is out of context anyways. It would have to be a subliminal message, like a symbol or something the more primitive part of our brains interperets. If you don’t get it, look it up and stop trying to pick a fight. Have a good one.

    2. James Nelson says:

      That’s “fun” isn’t it? Or perhaps “funk?” Maybe “funky?”

  26. jagdish says:

    This could also be a good ad campaign for the milk industry. Mamma!

  27. Hector J Ramirez says:

    Subliminal messages go way back; The “U” is clearly her vagina. It also implies that “U” should “*CK” one. The subconscious is a powerful tool, to help you or to “**CK” you!

  28. jrobinson says:

    I don’t get it. Even if you are right – and this is a subliminal message – the message would seem to be a negative one. Isn’t the message simply, F*CK CK One? I’m not sure that would make people go out and buy it. If GM ran an ad that had a subliminal message in it that said, “F*CK GM”… would that make you buy a GM car? And if it does… if the mere mention of the F word makes some people buy something… then they’re obviously idiots and aren’t worth the time. We should be happy that CK One is taking their money.

    1. Nate says:

      It’s suggesting you’ll get laid if you buy their product.

      It’s cool if your kids are obsessed with sex? You’re cool with people messing with your subconcious? Yea, maybe people are idiots. But a lot of idiots make our world go ’round and we better take care of them for our own sake.

      1. jrobinson says:

        I think you’re giving it too much credit. If I say F*CK YOU – does your subconscious think I want to have sex with you?

  29. Nate says:

    I see a lot of people not getting the point in the comments section. Subliminal messages are not meant for your concious mind to read and understand but for your subconcious to take in and act on. Some call this brain washing. There’s a lot more of these cases all through the advertising industry, a simple google search will bring up hundreds.

  30. Robert says:

    More free advertising for Calvin Klein thanks to 1010WINS…I hope CK sends you all a nice Christmas card.

  31. obbop says:

    Shoulda’ used the tyke with the padded bra to cover/convey the naughty word.

  32. John says:

    I see GIRL + CK = Chick

    1. Rodin says:

      Klein should hire you. You good!

  33. Foobar says:

    Funny how everyone sees her boobs, but nobody notices the more obvious “U” surrounding them… formed by her bra.

    It’s very creative, but it’s definitely f’d up…

  34. Earl Butz says:


  35. Dwayne says:

    Way to tackle the tough issues, CBS.

  36. Didnt Get Past The Boobs says:

    This was an article about boobs right?

  37. Amo says:

    Too busy staring at the tits.

    1. Marcus says:

      that’s probably because your brain (if you have one) is between your legs.

  38. John Q says:

    Judging by my own childhood, I wouldn’t have noticed it at all. Kids don”t look at ads for adult stuff. People who find things like this now probably spent all their time in the past playing their albums backwards listening for the devil in the lyrics.

    1. Chip says:

      The point to subliminal advertising is that you’re NOT SUPPOSED to notice it, John Q. Your brain notices it for you and then the company wins because they get their explicit message across without actually offending you. Neat, huh?

      1. John Q says:

        The point I was trying to make was that as a pre-teen, I wouldn’t have even looked at the ad at all. Only adults perceive these issues so who is being harmed? Like an email reporting a false virus, the commotion is causing more damage than the ad itself.

  39. you go calvin says:

    who cares. it gives me a chubby since my wife doesnt.

  40. nathan says:

    Another waste of time item on an increasingly irrelevant website. News please.

  41. fipper says:

    can’t imagine there are people who have nothing else better to do than stare at billboards all day.

  42. JJ says:

    I think its less racy than the Brooke Shields stuff that was done in the early 80s. That was seriously hot. And NOT appropriate for kids to watch. This is just another scantily clad girl with the CK word. (not the f word. there is no f. or u.)

  43. mike l says:

    are you serious? you should be more upset for the womans chest then the “WORD” that’s not even there. If that was their intentions, then fire the advertisers.

  44. NJ Reader says:

    How come they didn’t add that the “U” is formed by her bathing suit/bra top? But honestly I had no idea what the “terrible” word was until I read the article….so kudos once again to thr media for giving the attention to such “worthy” news…I am sure the CK execs thank you for the free advertising as well….

  45. sk says:

    CK has been putting up racy/inappropriate ads for many years now an dthey usually win the battle! so Ck likes all this publicity and attention. this girs is not even attractive she is really creepy looking so waht are they advertising? if she was on a billborad of something unknown no one would even notice it, but CK knows they can do waht ever tehy want!

    1. Rodin says:

      Equating “racy” with “inappropriate’ makes me sad for you. What a dull life you must lead.

      Your lack of writing ability and atrocious spelling makes you totally pathetic. Please stop flaunting your very defective education.

      “Nail up some indecency in plain sight over your door; from that time forward you will be rid of all respectable people,the most insupportable folk God has created.” – Paul Gauguin

      1. dee says:

        That was a weak argument. You just put down someone who didn’t agree with you, that’s all. Instead of getting plain defensive, try explaining WHY you believe what you do, and get through to someone. Insults are not convincing arguments on why you feel their opinions are incorrect.

      2. dee says:

        And your grammar in some of the previous posts has been poor also…

      3. sk says:

        First, someone lives a dull life because she doesn’t like inappropriate ads? I don’t feel that way, maybe you do! besides, what makes you so mad about my comment? do you work for CK? what are you so defensive about?

  46. Bklyn mom says:

    Seriously, people, get over yourselves! Advertising is supposed to entice, attract attention, etc. If you’ve been to Europe, their billboards have half naked women on them advertising the most mundane items. Stop being so prudish. I bet you say the F word in front of your kids all the time without thinking twice!

    1. Girls are Yum says:

      Bklyn mom,

      Agreed. The billboard raised more than my eyebrow.

      1. Rodin says:

        YEAH, raised more than my eyebrows too!

  47. pugphan says:

    Thank you women’s lib, and a woman’s right to choose, you’re free at last, uh.

  48. NYCEmpolyee says:

    what is the big deal people, the F word can be hear on radio, tv, online, itune, podcast, XM…………………….This is America

  49. Rodin says:


    Brilliant for Klein; brilliant for his ad people; Brilliant for whoever notices; brilliant for whoever imagined it (if it was not there).

    And ‘Karma’ is right.


  50. Karma is a hell of a thing says:

    you really think men will see anything beyond her boobs…i think not. i’ve seen worse.

Leave a Reply