Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Boycott Groups: Klein Ads Carry Scent of 'Heroin Chic'

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Boycott Groups: Klein Ads Carry Scent of 'Heroin Chic'

Article excerpt

A coalition of parent-led antidrug groups is calling for a boycott of designer Calvin Klein's products to protest a new ad campaign that they say glamorizes heroin addiction.

The magazine and television advertisements, which began appearing in August, feature a series of gritty images of gaunt, glassy-eyed models. The ads mark a new and unusual approach to selling a designer fragrance.

Executives at Calvin Klein say the ads portray real people and have nothing to do with the support or promotion of narcotics abuse. Critics say the ad campaign is the manifestation of a recent trend in fashion and entertainment circles called "heroin chic." It is a development, they say, that sends the wrong message to children and teenagers about one of the world's most addictive and dangerous drugs. "It is quite clear to me that they are glamorizing addiction and drug use, and they are doing it at a time when kids' drug abuse has doubled in the past four years," says organizer Sue Rusche, who called for the boycott this week. "It is not glamorous, it is not cool, it is outrageous, and Calvin Klein should be ashamed of himself, as should anyone else in the fashion industry who think they can sell products by glamorizing heroin addiction," says Mrs. Rusche, executive director of National Families in Action, an Atlanta-based antidrug group. Refuting a drug connection Robert Triefus, a senior vice president at Calvin Klein, says there is no connection between heroin use and the ad campaign. "It is absurd to suggest that we are trying to encourage people {to use drugs} or {to} promote drug use," he says. "Calvin Klein Inc. absolutely refutes the suggestion that there is a link between trends in drug abuse and any of its advertising campaigns." He says the advertisements are an innovative and effective way to sell perfume. "They are based on real people and the emotions described by those people based on their lives," he says. "The campaign is based on being yourself." Calvin Klein has a reputation as a maverick in the fashion world who is willing to take his ad campaigns to the edge. In the 1970s, teen model Brooke Shields was hired to proclaim in a jeans ad: "Nothing comes between me and my Calvins. …

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