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adidas' controversial bare breasted ads get banned by advertising watchdog

adidas' controversial bare breasted ads get banned by advertising watchdog

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Adidas' controversial sports bra ads featuring bare-breasted women has been called out by Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) and a ban has been put in place after investigations into the ads began. According to the ASA, it received 24 complaints.

The ads, published in February, featured a tweet of a photo grid of 25 pairs of bare breasts along with a couple of images of women’s backs after wearing sports bras, as well as two posters featuring a similar grid and a cropped version of individual ladies. The campaign also came with the tagline #SupportisEverything. The ad campaign was done in collaboration with Omnicom Group's TBWA.

Some complainants considered the ads' use of nudity as gratuitous as they objectified women by sexualising them to body parts. They challenged whether they were harmful and offensive. Meanwhile, other complainants challenged if the poster ads were appropriate for display as they could be seen by children.

In response to those complaints, adidas UK said that the images were intended to "reflect and celebrate different shapes and sizes, illustrate diversity and demonstrate why tailored support bras were important". It explained that the images had been cropped to protect the identity of the models and to ensure their safety, adding that all the models shown had volunteered to be in the ad and were supportive of its aims.

Additionally, the brand's tweet was not found to be in breach of Twitter's terms of service, Bloomberg reported.

ASA said that while it acknowledged adidas' intention of the ads were to show that women’s breasts differed in shape and size, which was relevant to the sports bras being advertised. However, it considered the depiction of naked breasts as "likely to be seen as sexual nudity". "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," ASA added.

ASA also found that the poster ads were not in targeted areas and could be viewed by children. Adidas UK had to comply by ensuring that the ads "do not appear again in the forms complained of".

A quick check by MARKETING-INTERACTIVE showed that the bare-breasted tweet was taken down from adidas UK's Twitter, but remains available with a media advisory in place on the brand's international Twitter account.

According to Bloomberg, adidas UK clarified that the ASA ruling was related to the creative being used in an untargeted fashion, rather than the creative itself and the message.

When the ad first launched on 9 February this year, it received mixed reactions from the public. On Twitter, comments ranged from consumers stating that they would have preferred to see the bras rather than the breasts, to accusations of the brand of using sex to sell their products deeming the move “inappropriate”, and of course support for its bold stance on women’s breasts. Since the ad's release, the tweet has garnered over 5,000 retweets at the time of writing.

Meanwhile, on Instagram, the responses have been far more positive as compared to its Twitter post. "Amazing on normalising the female body all the way and providing the support that the woman's body actually asks for," said a user.

Separately, the use of female body parts also triggered a fierce conversation in Malaysia when feminine hygiene brand Libresse had to withdraw an ad campaign where the brand reimagined the Nyonya kebaya chrysanthemum and peony designs with the vulva as the heart of the floral embroidery. Aiming to normalise V-Zone taboos, the brand wanted to spread a message to women that they should be proud and confident in their own skin regardless of the shape, size, or cultural diversity.

Related articles:
adidas' grid of bare breasted tweet: Supportive or shock inducing?
Libresse MY pulls vulva-inspired ad campaign after backlash from religious organisation
Old Panasonic 'trim your rambut-an' ad resurfaces after netizen compares it to Libresse vulva ad: Industry speaks
Libresse puts Peranakan twist to feminine care products
'Impossible is Nothing' for adidas as it doubles down on commitment to women

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