Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to Vox.com, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.
In the new music video for “I Dare You” by The xx, a bunch of teens skip school, ride through the sun-drenched streets of Los Angeles with the wind blowing through their hair, and sneak into the Sowden House, a haunted-seeming building with a dark history. But it’s not scary. Inside, they discover the British band playing by the pool, and they all slow-dance to the dreamy song.
It’s a pretty good video. Or is it an ad?
The nearly seven-minute piece was a collaboration with Calvin Klein chief creative officer Raf Simons, and its cast comes directly from Calvin Klein’s recent ad campaigns: Stranger Things actress Millie Bobby Brown (who appeared in Simons’s first marketing images for the brand), Moonlight actor Ashton Sanders (a Calvin Klein underwear model), Paris Jackson (who accompanied Simons to the Met Gala and has reportedly signed a huge contract with the brand), and models Ernesto Cervantes and Lulu Tenney (both of whom walked Calvin Klein’s February runway show and have appeared in its ads since).
Sanders wears a black turtleneck with a little “206” stitched on the throat, and Cervantes has on a green and purple colorblocked button-down — both pieces from Calvin Klein’s fall 2017 collection. Jackson wears a gray Calvin Klein sports bra.
So, a number of known Calvin Klein models wear Calvin Klein in a video made in partnership with Calvin Klein’s designer. It may not come with a #sponsored tag, but we can safely conclude that it does indeed function as an ad.
Product placement in music videos has become a big business, with brands shelling out as much as $100,000 for a mere six seconds of screen time in the hope that it will send young shoppers flocking to buy their products. Calvin Klein’s presence here is a bit more elegant than Samsung ham-handedly dropping its products into Ariana Grande’s “Focus” video, and it’s probably more effective. It’s the full Raf Simons vision.
Watch “I Dare You” below: