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‘Gratuitous’ Adidas boob ad banned in the UK

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By Hannah Bowler | Journalist

May 11, 2022 | 4 min read

A tweet of 25 pairs of breasts has landed Adidas with an ad ban from the UK watchdog after complaints it was “gratuitous” and inappropriate for children.

In February, Adidas rolled out a sports bra campaign on Twitter and out-of-home with cropped images of bare breasts and the strapline: “The reasons we didn’t make just one new sports bra.”

The ads spiked debate on social media, with Adidas being both praised for tackling taboos but criticized in equal measure.

neboko

ASA bans Adidas bare breast ads

The Drum at the time asked female marketers for their opinions, with many dismissing the ads as “sensationalist clickbait”. One creative director, Nathalie Gordon of The Or, told The Drum: “How sad is it that in a world where a brand is genuinely doing good, instead of showing the product doing good, it needs to use naked female bodies to garner attention?”

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In response to the campaign, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) received 24 complaints that claimed the use of nudity was “gratuitous” and objectified women, with some questioning whether the ads were appropriate for children.

In its defense, Adidas UK said the images were not gratuitous and were instead intended to “reflect and celebrate different shapes and sizes, illustrate the diversity and demonstrate why tailored support bras were important”. It also rebuffed the claim the ads were sexual, stating they intended to show breasts “simply as a part of a woman’s body”.

Adidas’s agency, TBWA\Neboko, did seek advice from CAP, which said the images were not sexual but did advise being careful with where the ads were placed. Off the back of that advice, Adidas avoided locations near schools and religious sites.

The ASA questioned the lack of emphasis on the bras the campaign was supposed to be advertising and ruled that the explicit nudity required careful targeting to avoid causing offense.

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