Underwear brand Knix apologizes for ad that critics say alluded to sexual violence

Leakproof period underwear company Knix has come under fire for a sponsored social media post that critics say invokes sexual assault.

The ad, which was recently published on Twitter and Facebook, shows a discarded pair of underwear and high heels left unceremoniously along a curb and features the caption: ‘What happens in Knix Leakproof stays in Knix Leakproof.’ 

Since sparking an outcry online, the ad has been quickly deleted, and the company, which describes itself as being ‘designed for everyday women by women’, insists it was never meant to go live in the first place.

Upset: This week, Knix published an ad depicting a discarded pair of underwear and heels on a curbside, and some who saw it online were upset and said it invoked sexual assault

Upset: This week, Knix published an ad depicting a discarded pair of underwear and heels on a curbside, and some who saw it online were upset and said it invoked sexual assault

Upset: This week, Knix published an ad depicting a discarded pair of underwear and heels on a curbside, and some who saw it online were upset and said it invoked sexual assault

The ad went live earlier this week and quickly caught the attention of some displeased shoppers.  

‘Hey Knixwear — so, what’s up with this ad that seems to be invoking sexual assault as a side benefit to your underwear?’ a woman named Amy Vernon wrote on Facebook.

Others chimed in with their own opinions, calling it ‘appalling,’ ‘awful,’ a ‘cringe-inducing disaster,’ and ‘shocking.’  

‘Wtf who thought this was a good idea?’ wrote one.

‘WTF knixwear this is at best a terrible facebook campaign for your underwear while at worst feels like some allusion to sexual violence?!’ a woman named Linds wrote on Twitter.

Some people defended the ad, saying it looks like the girl wearing the discarded items may have chosen to have sex outside.

Strong reactions: Critics called the ad 'appalling,' 'awful,' a 'cringe-inducing disaster,' and 'shocking' on social media

Strong reactions: Critics called the ad 'appalling,' 'awful,' a 'cringe-inducing disaster,' and 'shocking' on social media

Strong reactions: Critics called the ad ‘appalling,’ ‘awful,’ a ‘cringe-inducing disaster,’ and ‘shocking’ on social media

But Knix immediately announced that it was removing the ad and offered an apology.

‘You’re absolutely right to be scratching your head as to how this was ever posted in the first place and so we wanted to share some context,’ the brand responded to those who sent complaints, according to Vernon.

They went on to explain that a few weeks ago, they had an internal meeting in which lots of ideas were pitched, including this one. 

‘The concept behind the ad was “what happens in leak proof stays in leak proof”….(pee, sweat, blood etc) with a parity on Las Vegas,’ they went on. 

‘I can promise you there was no intention to connect our product and brand with sexual assault and violence and that no one within our company would make light of something so serious.’

Sorry: The brand has deleted it and explained that it was drawn up in a brainstorming session with 59 other ads and published by accident

Sorry: The brand has deleted it and explained that it was drawn up in a brainstorming session with 59 other ads and published by accident

Sorry: The brand has deleted it and explained that it was drawn up in a brainstorming session with 59 other ads and published by accident

Amends: Knix, which describes itself as being 'designed for everyday women by women', will donate $15,000 to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Canada

Amends: Knix, which describes itself as being 'designed for everyday women by women', will donate $15,000 to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Canada

Amends: Knix, which describes itself as being ‘designed for everyday women by women’, will donate $15,000 to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Canada

They got 60 ads total, but only meant to put out some of them, and this one had not made the cut for several reasons — including the cigarette butt. But due to a miscommunication, all 60 ads were posted this week.  

‘Somewhere out there people saw a metal construction support beam with a sports bra on it (horrific quality and super strange) other people saw compelling side by side absorbency tests. But worst of all, you and a handful of others saw this ad. 

‘We are so very sorry. I hope that you will accept our sincere apologies and we cannot thank you enough for flagging this with us.  

Founder and CEO Joanna Griffiths also added in a blog post that they are ‘so very sorry’ that this ad ‘triggered an association with sexual assault’ in some people.

She also said that Knix will donate $15,000 to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Canada, which provides support, counseling, and resources for women in Toronto. 

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