The sponsored post, published on Twitter and Facebook, shows a pair of black knickers discarded on an unkempt pathway along with a pair of nude heeled sandals.
It was given the tag line: “What happens in Knix Leakproof stays in Knix Leakproof.”
Shortly after it was released, it sparked outrage online.
Taking to Facebook, one person wrote: “Hey Knixwear — so, what’s up with this ad that seems to be invoking sexual assault as a side benefit to your underwear?”
Another commented: “Wtf who thought this was a good idea?”
And others described it as “appalling”, “awful” and “shocking”.
Over on Twitter, another shared: “WTF Knixwear this is at best a terrible Facebook campaign for your underwear while at worst feels like some allusion to sexual violence?!”
A few defended the ad, suggesting they interpreted as a woman choosing to have sex outside.
However, shortly after negative reaction began appearing, Knix – which describes its products as being “designed for everyday women by women” – swiftly deleted the post.
The company released an apology and explained that it should never have gone live.
“You’re absolutely right to be scratching your head as to how this was ever posted in the first place and so we wanted to share some context,’ they wrote to those who had complained.
Knix said they had had an internal meeting where 60 ad ideas had been pitched – including this one.
“The concept behind the ad was “what happens in leak proof stays in leak proof”….(pee, sweat, blood etc) with a parity on Las Vegas,” they continued.
“I can promise you there was no intention to connect our product and brand with sexual assault and violence and that no one within our company would make light of something so serious.”
The image, which had not made the cut, had been posted after a miscommunication.
They added: “We are so very sorry. I hope that you will accept our sincere apologies and we cannot thank you enough for flagging this with us.”
Joanna Griffiths, Knix’s founder and CEO, said that the brand would be donating £9,000 to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Canada, which provides support, counselling, and resources for women in Toronto.
Watch the latest videos from Yahoo Style UK: