Knix underwear brand removes ad appearing to suggest sexual assault, claims post was accidental

An underwear brand has apologized after coming under fire for accidentally releasing an advertisement for its leakproof underwear that many felt appeared to allude to sexual assault.

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Knix, a company that champions “all women to live unapologetically free,” according to its website, tweeted out an ad that showed a pair of scuffed and dirty heels in a gutter next to a discarded pair of underwear.

The ad was captioned, “What happens in Knix Leakproof stays in Knix Leakproof.”

The response to the campaign was swift, with many denouncing the brand on Twitter.

“Hey Knixwear - so, what's up with this ad that seems to be invoking sexual assault as a side benefit to your underwear?” Amy Vernon wrote on Facebook.

“This is awful and shocking,” Allyson K commented on the ad on Facebook.

“Wow. This is appalling,” Mickey Gomez wrote.

“Wtf who thought this was a good idea?” Charlese Jaszewski commented.

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Though several on Twitter and Facebook did not see the issue with the advertisement, Knix immediately responded to upset clients as soon as the photo was flagged, confirming the ad was being removed. The brand also claimed it was “unaware this image was in circulation until it was flagged for us.”

Knix further claimed the advertisement was published accidentally after an “internal miscommunication," in a statement to Fox News.

In a blog post by founder and CEO Joanna Griffiths, the company puts into context how the error was made and the ad was published.

“A few weeks ago we ran an internal team-building event in which everyone in the company had 60 minutes to come up with an ad concept. It’s called an Ad Hack-a-Thon. The goal was to collaborate creatively, all while encouraging the concept that everyone on Team Knix is welcome to contribute,” the blog read, noting 60 different ads were created in varying “quality and content.”

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Joanna Griffiths, founder and CEO of Knix, shows off part of the brand's line in Toronto in May.

Joanna Griffiths, founder and CEO of Knix, shows off part of the brand's line in Toronto in May. (Tara Walton/Toronto Star via Getty Image)

“Fast forward a few weeks later, and through an internal miscommunication, all 60 of the ads went live, including one ad that unfortunately not only caught people off guard (what were they thinking?) but for some, triggered an association with sexual assault. We are so very sorry,” the blog continued.

In addition to the lengthy explanation, Griffiths shared that the Toronto-based company would be donating $15,000 — since the ad was seen by 15,000 people — to the CAMH, which provides support, counseling and resources for women in Toronto. Knix will also be donating $5 for every person that visits the Life After Birth Gallery next week, the blog confirmed.

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Many following the controversy were pleased with the brand’s ownership of the error and speedy correction.