Calvin Klein has apologized for 'queer-baiting' following a steamy advertising campaign which saw supermodel Bella Hadid kiss a computer-generated model called Li Miquela.
Part of Calvin Klein's 'My Calvins' campaign, Hadid's advertisement saw her kiss Lil Miquela. a robot that was included on TIME magazine's 25 Most Influential People On The Internet list last year.
"Life is about opening doors," the ad proclaims, as Hadid and the robot indulge in a passionate kiss. "Creating new dreams you never knew could exist," it adds.
However, critics argued models from the LGBTQ community should have been used instead as Hadid is heterosexual while her avatar co-star is neither.
Queer-baiting is a recent term that Urban Dictionary defines as: "People in the media add homoerotic tension between two characters to attract more liberal and queer viewers with the indication of them not ever getting together for real in the show/book/movie."
Attracting a string of critics, one irate Instagrammer wrote, "Queer baiting with a problematic robot? Good job Calvin Klein!"
Another added, "A whole new level of queer-baiting. Yes a straight girl and a female animated robot, such representation, definitely not for the money without giving any actually representation."
A third believed it was a missed opportunity for the American fashion giant. "Wow what an missed opportunity to give the lgbtq community some real presence in fashion. Guess we're not real enough for Calvin."
One user even called for those responsible to be fired. "This is tragic. Throw the whole marketing team away."
In response to the outcry, Calvin Klein issued a quick apology. "The concept for our latest #MYCALVINS campaign is to promote freedom of expression for a wide range of identities, including a spectrum of gender and sexual identities.
"This specific campaign was created to challenge conventional norms and stereotypes in advertising.
"In this particular video, we explored the blurred lines between reality and imagination.
"We understand and acknowledge how featuring someone who identifies as heterosexual in a same-sex kiss could be perceived as queer-baiting.
"As a company with a longstanding tradition of advocating for LGTBQ+ rights, it was certainly not our intention to misrepresent the LGTBQ+ community.
"We sincerely regret any offense we caused."