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Adidas campaign showcasing diverse breasts banned for ‘explicit nudity’

·2 min read
‘We believe women’s breasts in all shapes and sizes deserve support and comfort,’ Adidas says (Adidas)
‘We believe women’s breasts in all shapes and sizes deserve support and comfort,’ Adidas says (Adidas)

An Adidas advertising campaign featuring dozens of pictures of bare breasts has been banned by the UK’s advertising watchdog for being likely to cause widespread offence.

In posts to Instagram and Twitter in February, the sportswear maker shared a collage of more than 20 naked torsos to promote its extensive collection of sports bras for women of “all shapes and sizes”.

“We believe women’s breasts in all shapes and sizes deserve support and comfort,” the brand said at the time.

In a ruling published on Wednesday 11 May, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said it had received 24 complaints that the campaign’s use of nudity was “gratuitous, objectified women by sexualising them and reducing them to body parts”.

Some complainants also raised concerns that the adverts were not suitable for children.

The Adidas Twitter post banned by the ASA (ASA/PA)
The Adidas Twitter post banned by the ASA (ASA/PA)

Adidas said the images were intended to “reflect and celebrate different shapes and sizes, illustrate diversity and demonstrate why tailored support bras were important”.

The images had been cropped to protect the models’ identities and all the women shown had volunteered to take part, the retailer added.

Twitter said the post had been reported by some users but was not found to be in breach of its terms of service.

“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 in its ruling.

“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 watchdog said that as the adverts had appeared in “untargeted media”, they could have been seen by children and were “likely to cause widespread offence”.

Adidas’ campaign received a mixed reaction when it first launched in February.

Some women commended the brand for promoting diversity and not censoring women’s bodies, but others accused it of sexism.

“Would you do this with men’s genitals? Is this ad directed towards men? Women already know what shapes, sizes and colours breasts come in,” one person wrote on Twitter.

In response to the ASA’s ruling, Adidas said: “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 on email / banner ads /etc rather than the creative itself and the message, which we stand proudly behind, and it is exhibited on adidas.com.”