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Adidas sports bra ads banned by UK Advertising Authority for objectifying women

Camilla Rydzek
12 May 2022

A campaign for Adidas's sports bras has been banned by the UK Advertising Standards Authority for showing dozens of sets female breasts.

The campaign was featured on posters and on Twitter, showing the nude breasts of 20 women of different shapes, sizes and skin tones and was captioned: "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."

There were a few variations to the adverts, with one UK poster featuring the nude breasts of 62 women and the slogan "The reasons we didn't make just one new sports bra." Another variation featured 64 women whose nipples were pixelated.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said that it had received 24 complaints about the campaign that said the ads were gratuitous and objectified women by sexualising them and "reducing them to body parts", while others questioned the appropriateness of children being able to see the ad.

Complaints were also made to Twitter, although the social media company did not find the ads to be in breach of its terms of service.

In a ruling released on Wednesday, the ASA ruled that the ad should be banned for using explicit nudity and appearing where children may possibly see it.

The campaign accompanied the sportswear retailer's new extended sports bra portfolio, which launched online and in-store in February. The new collection features 43 new styles, in 72 sizes.

Adidas responded to the ruling by specifying that the depiction of nude breasts in a "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."

It added that all the women featured in the campaign had voluntarily participated and that their identities were protected by cropping the image and that it had purposely not run the ads on posters or billboards near schools or religious venues.

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