Adidas sports bra adverts banned in UK on bare breasts

By Amarachi Orie, CNN Business

Adidas adverts showing topless photo grids have been banned in the UK by the Advertising Standards Authority.

The clothing company’s promotional materials for its sports bras, released in February, featured a grid of photographs of various women’s bare breasts. The images, which appeared in a tweet and two posters, were intended to highlight body diversity and Adidas’ efforts to cater to all shapes and sizes.

The ASA said it received 24 complaints about the ads.

Some viewed the use of nudity as gratuitous, objectified women by sexualizing them and reducing them to body parts, according to the ASA ruling, published online Wednesday. Others asked if the advertising posters were appropriate for display where they could be seen by children.

Both complaints were upheld and the ads should no longer appear in the offending forms, the authority said.

The ASA said it “acknowledges that the intent of the advertisements was to show that women’s breasts differed in shape and size, which was relevant to the sports bras being advertised.”

The authority said it does not believe the way women are portrayed is sexually explicit or objectifies them.

But he added: “We considered the depiction of topless to be likely to be considered explicit nudity. We noticed breasts were the focus of the ads, and there was less emphasis on the bras themselves, which were only mentioned in the accompanying text.

The ASA added: “As the advertisements contained explicit nudity, we considered that they required careful targeting to avoid offending those who viewed them.”

Adidas supported the campaign.

In a statement to CNN Business on Thursday, Adidas said: “The creation of the gallery was designed to show how diverse breasts are, with different shapes and sizes showing why tailored support is paramount.

“It’s important to note that the ASA’s decision was related to the use of this creative in a non-targeted manner rather than the creative itself and the message, which we proudly support.”

Controversial ads divide opinion

Adidas’ campaign went viral in February.

The company pinned the ad to its Twitter under a link to the collection of bras. The ad’s tagline was: #SupportIsEverything.

“We believe women’s breasts of all shapes and sizes deserve support and comfort,” Adidas said in the campaign. “That’s why our new range of sports bras contains 43 styles, so everyone can find the fit that’s right for them.”

Adidas also put up a poster that showed the same cropped images of 62 women’s bare breasts and said, “The reasons why we didn’t create just one new sports bra.

Another poster showed the same text and cropped images of 64 women, but their nipples were obscured by pixelation.

Women and men on Twitter have both weighed in on Adidas’ marketing ploy – with decidedly mixed reactions.

Some Twitter users, mostly female consumers, said they would have preferred to see the bras rather than the breasts. Others said the announcement was inappropriate or that it caught them off guard and confused them. And some users said it was bold and applauded Adidas for it.

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Parija Kavilanz contributed reporting.

James T. Quintero