Adidas' sports bra ads featuring exposed breasts have been banned in the UK

by 24britishtvMay 11, 2022, 1 p.m. 11
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• Some complainants told the ASA that the ads "objectified women" and reduced them to body parts.
• Adidas had released the ads to highlight the diversity of breasts and promote its sports bra range.

The UK has banned a series of adverts for Adidas sports bras that featured bare breasts.

In complaints to the UK's Advertising Standards Authority, some people said that the adverts objectified and sexualized women and were inappropriate for children.

Adidas released the ad campaign in February, which included both social-media posts and posters featuring images of a variety of exposed breasts, in some cases with the nipples blurred out. The campaign was released to highlight the uniqueness and diversity of breasts and promote the 72 sizes included in Adidas' sports bra range, the company said.

The posters were accompanied by text reading: "The reasons we didn't make just one new sports bra." Posts on Instagram and Twitter had longer captions with a similar sentiment.

But the campaign sparked controversy online, with some social-media users describing the image as "distasteful" and "explicit."

The ASA said it received 24 complaints about the campaign. Some said that the ads may have been "harmful and offensive" because they "objectified women by sexualizing them and reducing them to body parts," per the ASA. Complainants also questioned whether the posters, which were displayed in public places, were appropriate for children.

Some social-media users have lauded Adidas for the campaign, however, commenting on the Instagram post with heart and clapping emojis. "Thank you for showing more brown breasts than the average health textbook!" one comment reads.

"Although we did not consider that the way the women were portrayed was sexually explicit or objectified them, we considered that the depiction of naked breasts was likely to be seen as explicit nudity," the ASA said Wednesday. "We noted the breasts were the main focus in the ads, and there was less emphasis on the bras themselves, which were only referred to in the accompanying text."

The ASA said that that because the posters contained explicit nudity and were displayed in places where they were likely to be seen by children, they were "inappropriately targeted, and were likely to cause widespread offence." The tweet featuring the image was "not in keeping with their usual content" and was therefore "likely to cause widespread offence," the ASA said.

"The ads must not appear again in the forms complained of," the ASA said. "We told Adidas UK Ltd to ensure their ads did not cause offence and were targeted responsibly."

Adidas told Insider: "The gallery creative was designed to show just how diverse breasts are, featuring different shapes and sizes that highlight why tailored support is paramount."

"It is important to note that the ASA ruling was related to this creative being used in an untargeted fashion rather than the creative itself and the message, which we stand proudly behind," the company added.

The ASA said that Adidas UK had released the images to "reflect and celebrate different shapes and sizes, illustrate diversity, and demonstrate why tailored support bras were important" and hasn't considered the ads as sexual.

Adidas told the ASA that it had submitted the ads to the Committees of Advertising Practice, who had said the images weren't sexual but that the use of nudity brought risk. As a result, Adidas didn't place the ads near schools or religious venues, it said.

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