American fashion brand Calvin Klein has been forced to apologise after fans accused it of “queerbaiting” in its new advertising campaign.

The new advert features heterosexual model Bella Hadid kissing a fictional female digital character known as Lil Miquela.

People have accused the brand of queerbaiting – when companies use the suggestion of a homosexual relationship in order to attract gay fans, whilst trying not to alienate straight customers.

Hadid appears in the ad campain with digital character Lil Miquela. Pic: Instagram/ @lilmiquela
Image: Bella Hadid appears in the ad campaign with digital character Lil Miquela. Pic: Instagram/@lilmiquela

Criticising the ad, Madison Malone Kircher, an associate editor at New York Magazine, said on Twitter: “Who is gonna tell Calvin Klein you’re supposed to wait until June for your tone-deaf queer-bait ad campaigns!! lil miquela and bella hadid [sic] out here smooching two weeks too early!!!”

June is often referred to as pride month, when most pride events begin to take place around the world.

Another Twitter user said: “Stop using lesbianism to sell your clothing.. we’re not garnish for men.”

The campaign has been accused of queerbaiting. Pic: Youtube/ Calvin Klein
Image: The advert is part of a Calvin Klein campaign. Pic: YouTube/Calvin Klein

Apologising to fans, the company Calvin Klein said: “The concept for our latest #MYCALVINS campaign is to promote of expression for a wide range of identities, including a spectrum of gender and sexual identities.

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“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.”

The firm continued: “We understand and acknowledge how featuring someone who identifies as heterosexual in a same-sex kiss could be perceived as queerbaiting.

“As a company with a longstanding tradition of advocating for LGBTQ+ rights, it was certainly not our intention to misrepresent the LGBTQ+ community.

“We sincerely regret any offence we caused.”

Ms Hadid’s agency did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Pic: Instagram/ @lilmiquela
Image: Lil Miquela is an online character. Pic: Instagram/ @lilmiquela

Lil Miquela is a fictional, digital character and is often referred to as a robot.

Her Instagram account, which claims she is from California, has amassed more than 1.5m followers since launching in 2016 and features the character modelling and singing.

courtesy of Sky News