In the 1980s, a very young and slightly bare Brooke Shields teased TV audiences in commercials for Calvin Klein jeans: “Want to know what gets between me and my Calvin’s”, she asked, looking straight into the camera. “Nothing!”
That line set hearts to racing.
It also, James Sullivan writes in A Cultural History of an American Icon, “… pushed innuendo in advertising to the brink of soft porn.”
Fast forward more than 20 years. Today, Shields’ 1980s ads look quaint and almost innocent compared to the blatantly sexual advertising that’s become the norm for jeans.
For instance, in the spring-summer of 2006, Lee Jeans ran an ad campaign in Australia tellingly dubbed “Lolita”. The campaign outraged a number of watchdog groups there, but it passed muster with the Advertising Standards Board despite being on “the brink of soft porn”. The Board’s reasoning was pure rationalization:
According to the reports, the board held that the woman in [the] advertising is over 18, and is dressed up in a fashion that is prevalent or fashionable among young women for summer. Further, it ruled … that consumption of this style of lollipop is now frequent among young women.
Well, yes, but young women don’t so often loll around with their legs spread wide while giving fellatio to a lollipop and offering an appraising gaze to the viewer, unless they wish to suggest something more than merely how comfortable and stylish they feel in their jeans.
The ad taken from the campaign and shown here is actually the tamest of the bunch.
In the same year (2006) as Lee’s “Lolita” campaign, a Turkish jeans company launched an advertising campaign that could serve as a practical guide to sexual positions.
The images that follow are all from the Turkish campaign: