What in the world is going on with Jake Gyllenhaal’s Calvin Klein commercial?

Royals visit West Ham United’s London Stadium

Earlier this month, Calvin Klein released the first image from their new ad campaign for Calvin Klein Eternity, a perfume/cologne which I personally don’t like, but one which is pretty popular. The campaign features Jake Gyllenhaal and Liya Kebede and a small child/toddler. It’s a pretty print ad, but you know Calvin Klein is paying big money for Jake’s face, so why doesn’t the print ad show more of his face? I don’t know. Anyway, late last week, Calvin Klein debuted their first commercial from this campaign. The commercial is… odd. Just go into cold and see what you think.

To me, it seems like a clip from a completely random indie film which takes itself too seriously. Jezebel theorized that it comes across as creepy, like Jake later goes crazy and kills a bunch of people. This was directed by Cary Fukunaga, best known to people as the director of the first season of True Detective, and the director of Beasts of No Nation. Neither of those projects scream “future perfume ad director,” and I think it’s safe to say that maybe Fukunaga has a problem with tone, specifically keeping the tone light and joyful instead of ominous and sad. Like, I don’t want my perfume purchase to come with feelings of regret and ennui.

As for the e.e. cummings poem being recited – you can read some of the backstory here. Fukanaga says that they were going to experiment with different poems and activities, and basically this young child actor-model, Leila, only really enjoyed the cummings poem. It sounds like a really exhaustive and expensive way to just get Jake Gyllenhaal to make a foot-phone with a child.

Royals visit West Ham United’s London Stadium

Photos courtesy of Calvin Klein.

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68 Responses to “What in the world is going on with Jake Gyllenhaal’s Calvin Klein commercial?”

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  1. Jaii says:

    This reminds me of the start of Casualty where u have a really happy lovely family and u know something absolutely awful is about to happen in the next few minutes… jake is gorgeous though , and wow Liya Kebede is stunning. Don’t u just want to munch on that’s kids feet though? Scrumptious kid.

    • Sixer says:

      Hahahahahaha. Casualty! That is so true!

      It comes across as a tick box exercise for me:

      Famous person? Check.
      Diversity casting? Check.
      Artsy director? Check.
      Artsy dialogue that will make people Google? Check.

      The thing is, tick box recipes don’t make good cakes. Adverts either!

      • Liberty says:

        Unicorn? Oh, damn.

      • Maggie says:

        Diversity casting? Really? When do you ever see this coupling in print/commercial ads?
        Usually it’s white women/black men pairings shoved down our throats constantly.
        Nice change and it helps that jake is handsome and liya is a beauty 😍

    • Hazel says:

      Adorable child, such a sweetie. And beautiful people. Seems like a typical CK commercial to me, pretentious as all get out.

      • magnoliarose says:

        Lol true.

      • KC says:

        @ Maggie and Hazel

        See, I find it interesting that they’re both in the same ad but never together. “Hurrah for this rare pairing!” were my thoughts starting the advert then I watched it and wondered, “err… was it a joke? Were they intentionally keeping the couple apart? Was it supposed to be like a separated/divorced couple who are now only and FOREVER linked by a child? If they’re going to be diverse in their pairing why not actually pair them? ”.

        A black woman who has a child with a non-black man and ends up mothering on her own is too old and tired a story. It would have been nicer to see a black woman and non-black man enjoying their time as a family together but I guess that concept seems far-fetched and unrealistic to most. I guess I should just be happy black people were even in it and in the same advert as an attractive nonblack man is what I’m walking away from this with. I’m probably reading too much into it but the thoughts I have on this issue are so near the surface these days.

      • Hazel says:

        Interesting perspective, KC. I understand what you’re saying.

      • Sojaschnitzel says:

        @KC “They’re both in the same ad but never together” – I noticed that too and found it disturbing. Seemed very weird. It made me think of divorce, and then I became sad. Advertisment failure.
        Also the whole thing is creepy to the max.

  2. HennersOfOz says:

    “It sounds like a really exhaustive and expensive way to just get Jake Gyllenhaal to make a foot-phone with a child.” Lollll 😂

  3. emma33 says:

    I think his beard adds to the creep factor, it’s just a tiny bit too long.

    I did like that the ad had no music, it gave it more of an intimate feel.

  4. Serene Wolf says:

    Well you can tell Cary Fukunaga is a Terence Malick fan. I don’t like it. Poor kid was squirming through it. As was I.

    • Peeking in says:

      What? The kid wasn’t squirming through the commercial. She wouldn’t have seen the finished product. She was just filming her scenes.

    • Silent Star says:

      Oh dear, such cynics! I thought it was lovely. I was happy to see that the interaction was focused on the love for a child and not on the sexuality of a woman.

  5. Jamie42 says:

    This reminds me of the Brad Pitt commercials a few years for some prestige brand that I now forget–artsy, pretentious, strange.
    The mother and child are gorgeous–why not have a joyful beach romp, or something, among the three of them? Or at least some storyline that doesn’t feel so foreboding.

    • Sigh... says:

      It was Chanel.
      And SNL’s parody of it (w/ Taran) was SO on point!

    • Boodiba says:

      Brad is ALWAYS pretentious. That idiotic Tree of Life movie was, hands down, the WORST piece of crap I’ve ever sat through in a theater. (I’d have left but was on a date.)

    • M.A.F. says:

      I think what they were going for was a lazy Sunday afternoon.

    • ravynrobyn says:

      @ SIGH-OMG, Taran was so f’ing BRILLIANT that whenever I see Brad Pitt speaking, I flash on Taran 🤣 Really miss him on SNL.

  6. Esmom says:

    I don’t get ominous or creepy as much as I get formulaic and pretentious. It’s like the perfume makers think lighthearted isn’t the right tone so they force this faux depth into the narrative. Which is too bad because the actors have chemistry and the lighthearted part rings true while the poetry recitation feels ridiculous.

    • HeidiM says:


      • Malificent says:

        Yep. The poem is beautiful but is too pretentious all in one dose. They should have used everyday chatter for most of the ad, and then just included a few lines of the poem.
        But I like the idea of the kid for Eternity if they need to get deep. Our claim to eternity is the love that we leave behind in our families and communities.

  7. Radley says:

    Calvin Klein used to regularly make weird perfume commercials. SNL did a bit on it back in the day. It’s a return to form for CK. I guess it works.

  8. Anon33 says:

    Not sure I get where this is coming from…? They’re supposed to be a family lounging around. My family used to do this, but we would sing Beatles songs, etc., so I don’t get “creepy” vibes at all. Pretentious? Absolutely. Creepy? Um…not really.

  9. Millennial says:

    An e.e. cummings poem? Really? Did no one at Calvin Klein ready any other poetry after high school?

    • Serene Wolf says:

      A bit of Charles Bukowski would’ve been better.

      • slowsnow says:

        Ahhh so true 😁
        “(…) I write from the bed
        as I did last
        will see the doctor,
        “yes, doctor, weak legs, vertigo, head-
        aches and my back
        “are you drinking?” he will ask.
        “are you getting your
        exercise, your
        I think that I am just ill
        with life, the same stale yet

    • spidey says:

      A bit of Hiddles reading “May I Feel”………..would have been best 🙂

  10. Alexandria says:

    Perfume commercials are always weird and / or contrived to me.

  11. Beth says:

    I don’t see it as creepy, it’s a normal kind of commercial for CK perfume. If they weren’t talking, it would be better

  12. Lolo86lf says:

    I am a total loss as to how this commercial is going to compel me to buy the cologne. It is weird advertisement. Who are they targeting? Newlyweds and young families? The actors are nice looking though.

    • Tania says:

      I think they are targeting the people that were young when it originally came out. I was in my teens when it first came out. It was the beginning of the Calvin Klein craze–Eternity, Obsession, CK One, Kate Moss. I am now married with two small children so the ad resonates with me and gives me some nostalgia as well. There’s something disingenuous about the ad though. Perhaps the fact that they’re all so morose. Kids are joyful, giggly and smiley most of the time.

  13. Maggie says:

    Creepy? Nah.
    Creepy would be broke shields spreading her legs full crotch shot telling us nothing comes between her and her calvins. I think she was about 16 at the time? Ceepy.
    Also, brad pitt and his perfume ad and his weird eyes moving everywhere as the world turns so do…we?

    • KiddVicious says:

      As an adult, yes that was creepy. As a 16 year old it sent me right out to buy a pair of Calvin’s. LOL I don’t remember thinking her age was a big deal, I remember adults mentioning how young she was but it never entered my head that it was wrong or creepy, she was just a model/actress to me.

  14. cleveland girl says:

    worst commercial ever. period.

  15. lightpurple says:

    Calvin Klein Eternity ads have always been pretentious, overly serious, and weird going back to the ones with Christy Turlington decades ago.

  16. OTHER RENEE says:

    Pompous and pretentious. And frankly depressing.

  17. Shelley says:

    Would have been perfect without the voice-over? Some of his expressions seems off with the narrative.

  18. Maggie says:

    I will definitely buy this to support the beautiful liya kebede. I just realized how rare it is to see normal, attractive, slim and pretty black women in ads. Well done Calvin Klein!

  19. Shambles says:

    The opening scene for Donnie Darko 2..?

  20. Tania says:

    Alternate thought, not knowing anything about the model and child and not wanting to google to ruin my idea. What if this is Jake’s secret family and they’re now all hiding in plain sight?

    • Shambles says:

      That would be nothing short of amazing, and Jake Gyllenhaal’s Secret Hot Family is exactly what we need right now

    • Hazel says:

      I like it!🙌

    • magnoliarose says:

      I want this to be true. Lets start a conspiracy theory as a distraction.

    • Artemis says:

      His fans would like to believe that as he’s been pushing a family man image for a while. In real life, he seems disappointing (and I say this as a fan).

      I see Jake more as a George Clooney/Leo D hybrid but he would not be caught dead admitting to it. Dude’s preferred age range for his hook-ups is firmly in the early 20s so I don’t believe for a second he’s emotionally willing or available to start a committed relationship again. Let alone become a father. Men who want to become a father don’t sneak into their Soulcycle class when it’s dark already and stare at attractive women’s butts for an hour to then pick out the hottest one and leave their number at reception instead of having the balls to look into the woman’s face and engage in conversation. It’s creepy and unnecessary. He can ‘score’ without this crap and it negates his deep persona he developed post-Swift.

      He seems to do a reverse of what many men do: date seriously when he was under 30 instead of having fun and casual flings when he’s in his ‘ripe for marriage’ age. Not that this is a problem, do you boo but he’s been on this ‘I want love, I want a baby’ train for a while now and exhibiting no such behaviour in his personal life that cements it. Actions > words. He is a commitment phobe who will more likely have a babymomma at this point as he’s not set on marriage at all. It’s his life but he seems so dishonest about his true values, I peeped it too when he was on Howard Stern, he cannot be really honest about what he’s looking for at the moment.

      • kibbles says:

        Some of his girlfriends (T. Swift and models) have been disappointing, I agree. I don’t believe he is like Leo or Clooney though. He tries to keep his life fairly private and he won’t be found surrounded by models on a yacht in St. Tropez. Other than T. Swift, his girlfriends have been fairly age appropriate. He’s not even 40 yet so that’s not hard to do at the moment. When he goes on vacation he tends to go with his close gal pal Greta Caruso. I’ve suspected that they are in a friends with benefits relationship, but who knows. I have also read that he has had showmances while hiding real relationships with non-famous women. Gyllenhaal is definitely harder to read than Clooney and DiCaprio even if he is spending his 30s playing the field.

      • Artemis says:

        I follow his career so I read a lot of articles, watch interviews and sometimes I stumble upon people commenting from NYC saying he he has been hitting on so and so at parties or bars and even in the dog park. And they are consistent accounts. Dude is flirting and hooking up all over NYC but he’s lowkey about it.

        A fact at this point is that he looks for girls at his Soulcycle class, a friend of one of the instructors confirmed as such. He goes after women in their early 20s, fit/slim type. And it was already known he goes in after the class starts (to not draw attention on himself) which means he’s sitting in the back of the class, in the dark staring at women’s behinds and picking his flavour of the day/week/month. That really put me off as he’s been my no1 actor crush fsince Prisoners and I didn’t think he was that kind of guy because he came across as deep and sensitive…now I think he’s just a f-ckboi 😀

        Also I looked at Alyssa Millers Insta to see if she threw some shade at him post-breakup and she was posting something about ‘finally being able to be herself’ with her new BF. Swift’s account of him on Red (which granted is very blaming him without any self-awareness) makes me think he’s kind of terrible in relationships. And she was only 20 at the time and him nearing 30, he seemed borderline emotionally abusive by making her trust him, making promises and then ignore her and dump her over and over again and TS finally having enough of it (hence We Are Never getting back together). And his embarrassment about TS being famous yet he chased her via Gwyneth Paltrow and then treated her like garbage, hiding her and pretending it never happened afterwards (and lying about never hearing the songs about him or knowing it’s about him). Reese married and had a kid with her now husband pretty much immediately after dumping Jake when he was clearly hung up on her and wanted to start a family. The more recent the relationship, the worse he seems to be getting. There’s a reason why he said he was only in love 2x. Kiki and Reese got the best Jake BF but I wonder if it’s because they’re known to be quite rude so Jake didn’t have the upperhand.

        Well obviously he’s lowkey about it. Leo D and George never claimed to be looking for babies and love, Jake is making it his image around 2014 which is funnily enough the last time he had a serious relationship. Being surrounded by models in public would negate this image. That doesn’t mean it’s not happen in private though. Which is where it counts the most.

        The only reason why I think Greta is not a FWB is because she physically she is not his type. I think people want to believe that because she looks average but he goes for model types :). He has been photographed with his FWBs in public and he can be quite affectionate to them, I haven’t seen him treat Greta the same way, they read as friends only. Greta also knows Jake the best, even his flaws so she wouldn’t be bamboozled by his fame, looks and faux-sincerity and sleep with him. You know who I think he was after? Rachel McAdams during Southpaw. And she had none of it. That’s just me reading their body language though. I thought it was interesting. And the fact he dumped Miller, I don’t think it was schedule, it was McAdams.

      • jessica says:

        Why did you say that The more recent the relationship, the worse he seems to be getting. ?

  21. smcollins says:

    Eh…it’s a perfume ad. Over analyzing it and picking it apart seems silly. Sorry. Seems on par with most ads for designer perfumes/colognes, not so much about the product as the “art” in the advertising.

  22. Jenna says:

    Lol. I can’t stream the video here in Canada but your description made me laugh so hard. Phone foot!

  23. Ce2495 says:

    Call me crazy but I like it 😉

  24. KiddVicious says:

    I don’t hate the commercial, I do think it’s odd, though.

    Calvin Klein’s first Eternity commercials were pretty good. They’re also what started the family portraits where everyone is on the beach in khakis and matching blue or white shirts. LOL

    • Hazel says:

      Memory is funny. Mine is that those earlier commercials were b/w, like this one. The rest sounds familiar— beautiful families, frolicking on the beach, simple clothing, & etc.

      • KiddVicious says:

        Exactly. Black and white with beautiful models, beautiful children. The funny part was the models were way too young (like 22-23) to have children that age, 7-8 yrs. The clothing was very much the Calvin Klein look of that time, which is still popular now. Very classic.

  25. crazydaisy says:

    I tried a cold watch and to me, the biggest problem was trying to believe that Jake G is actually in this family and honestly is loving these people. This is an ad, not a movie. Jake is a famous, well-known personality. I can’t forget who he is and suspend disbelief for 1 minute! Therefore, I am completely unable to get into the mood of the piece. I do like that they did an interracial couple. I think music would have helped, and using a non-celebrity actor with whom it would have been easier to pretend.

  26. Shannon says:

    Pretty people, adorable kid and I like e.e. cummings. But none of it made me think, “I want this perfume.” I actually found it vaguely depressing.

    • Sigh... says:

      The kid is absolutely *adorable*, but with the “parents” interacting w/ and reciting to cutie pie separately, it had a kinda bittersweet “child of divorce” vibe…? Like the scent should be called “Separation by Calvin Klein.” 😄

      • i got the runs says:

        Agreed … at least have one shot of them together.

        I heart Jake (October Sky forever!), but his voice doesn’t work for this — and incidentally a lot of other things, I think.

        Perfume commercials in general are ridic. This is par for the course.

  27. kibbles says:

    I’m laughing. This is just run of the mill behavior for Jake Gyllenhaal, and I’ve come to love his weirdness and eccentricities. So many of his movies follow the same pattern as this CK ad commercial. Jake looks so much better without the beard, so CK should have first of all made that clear in his contract to show his entire shaven face in all print ads and commercials. I think Jake and Cary Fukunaga are friends, so maybe this was Jake’s condition to do a perfume ad. He probably didn’t want it to be light and cheesy, so he specifically told Cary he wanted it to have some deeper meaning that most people would never understand. I could totally see Jake wanting this type of ad and being happy that at least it is not of him looking super sexy in a suit in Paris or half naked running along a beach. Oftentimes Jake takes himself too seriously, but at least he appears to have the intelligence, acting talent, and demeanor to kind of pull it off without seeming fake about his dark persona.

  28. Anare says:

    I’ve always gotten a gay vibe from him.

  29. vespernite says:

    I thought the casting was refreshing… Love Jake. And the style is typical Calvin Klein, I like that too.