Between love and madness lies ... Eva Mendes' nipple?

The newest perfume ad from Calvin Klein is as scandalous as ever.

Published August 7, 2008 2:30PM (EDT)

According to the Boston Herald, Calvin Klein is holding onto his vaunted status as the country's raciest advertiser (American Apparel be damned). The latest ad for its Secret Obsession perfume is so scandalous, so suggestive, that it has been banned in the United States. (An edited version will run on cable and the full version will play abroad.)

The commercial, which Calvin Klein president Tom Murry calls "exceptional," features Eva Mendes rolling around in an unmade bed, caressing herself and flashing a nipple. In what the Herald describes as a "husky" voice, she then announces, "Between love and madness lies obsession. Love ... madness. It's my secret."

OK. But here's my secret: Between the masturbation and the boob flash lies a problem I've always had with commercials like this. I'm a very literal person, so instead of soaking up the sight of Mendes' nipple, my mind takes me down a totally different track. Namely: Why would one name a perfume "Obsession"? In the context of love and madness, it makes me think of stalkers. What's sexy about a restraining order? And is the scent of that type of obsession (think: love-crazed astronaut speeding down the highway in a diaper) really something I'd want to apply to my pulse points? This thought pattern is quickly followed by another question: "Am I really thinking this hard about a perfume commercial?" Maybe that's why my Calvin Klein scent of choice is still that unambiguously titled 1990s classic, CK One. It's old, it's unisex ... and it doesn't prompt questions.

By Catherine Price

Catherine Price is an award-winning journalist and author of Vitamania: How Vitamins Revolutionized the Way We Think About Food. Her written and multimedia work has appeared in publications including The Best American Science Writing, The New York Times, Popular Science, O: The Oprah Magazine, the Los Angeles Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Washington Post Magazine, Salon, Slate, Men’s Journal, Mother Jones, PARADE, Health Magazine, and Outside. Price lives in Philadelphia.

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