adidas ad designed to empower women banned for causing “widespread offence”

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  • The ad was first released in February.

    Back in February, sports brand adidas launched their new sports bra campaign, featuring an inclusive ad designed to empower women and highlight that every body is different.

    Yet today, the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has banned the advert after receiving 24 complaints about the nudity in the ad.

    Of those who complained, they said that it was inappropriate, the nudity “gratuitous”, and that it “reduced [women] to body parts.”

    Initially posted on social media at the start of the year, the ad showed 20 different women’s breasts and aimed to communicate that it’s normal for breasts to come in a variety of sizes, shapes, and skin colours.


    The initial advert read: “We believe women’s breasts in all shapes and sizes deserve support and comfort – which is why our new sports bra range contains 43 styles, so everyone can find the right fit for them.”

    Promoting the new adidas bra range – which, as above, has a huge 43 completely different styles to suit every requirement – two similar ads were posted showing 62 and 64 women and their breasts. An attached slogan read: “The reasons we didn’t make just one new sports bra.”

    Defending the ad, reps at adidas said the ad “reflects and celebrates different shapes and sizes, illustrates diversity, and demonstrates why tailored support bras [are] important.”

    They also said that all women who appeared were photographed consensually.

    Investigating the incident, Twitter, where the ads were posted, said the content is not in breach of the site’s content policy.

    They added: “adidas did not consider the ad to be sexual; they intended to show breasts simply as a part of a woman’s body.”

    That said, they lamented that there is always a “risk attached to the use of nudity in commercial advertising, especially in untargeted spaces.”

    People have been quick to call the ban ridiculous, with one Twitter user, Zen, sharing: “By banning an @adidas bra ad for showing women’s breasts, the @ASA_UK is itself perpetuating the sexualisation and objectification of women’s bodies. THAT is offensive.”

    Medical doctor Stephanie Rutherford added: “As a breast doctor, I think the world needs to know what normal breasts look like. This ad should be celebrated and not banned. It is in no way sexualising or objectifying women. @adidas.”

    Nonetheless, the ads have now been banned, with the ASA commenting: “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.”

    “We considered that the image was not suitable for use in untargeted media – particularly where it could be seen by children – and concluded that (the posters) were inappropriately targeted, and were likely to cause widespread offence.”

    They further commented that the ads were not in line with the usual type of content adidas shares on their Twitter account.

    As a Health Editor who writes stories about breast cancer, self love, and the gender pay gap every month, I think it’s ridiculous that the ad has been banned. If we can’t celebrate the female form sans Photoshop or retouching, then we have a problem.

    I truly believe the aim of this ad was to empower women and highlight that every body is different, encouraging you to celebrate yours and make sure you’re wearing the right support throughout each workout.

    Not to mention the fact that the ASA says the ad has caused “widespread offence” despite receiving only 24 complaints.

    Nobody seems to have a problem with the barrage of half-naked male-led ads we see regularly – Calvin Klein, I’m looking at you – which also makes it hypocritical.

    What do you reckon? Should the ad have been banned?

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