An Adidas campaign featuring dozens of pairs of breasts to promote diversity in its range of sports bras has been banned by Britain’s advertising watchdog for using explicit nudity and appearing where children could see the ads.
The campaign, versions of which were posted on Twitter and some large-scale billboard sites, prompted 24 complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) that the adverts were free, objectified women by ” sexualizing and reducing them to body parts”, were harmful and offensive. and could be seen by children.
Adidas UK defended the images, saying they were neither gratuitous nor sexual, but were intended to “reflect and celebrate different shapes and sizes and illustrate diversity”.
The sportswear company said the images had been cropped to protect the identities of the models, and they had all volunteered and supported the campaign’s goals.
Adidas added that it did not display the ads on posters or billboards near schools or religious places, and did not believe the campaign would cause harm or distress to children.
The ASA said the depiction of bare breasts, including in an advertisement where pixelation was used to blur the models’ nipples, was “likely to be considered explicit nudity”.
“We noted that breasts were the focus of the ads, and there was less emphasis on the bras themselves, which were only mentioned in the accompanying text,” said the SAA. “Because the ads contained explicit nudity, we felt they required careful targeting to avoid offending viewers.”
The ASA said large display sites were not targeted and could be seen by people of all ages, including children, and the ads were therefore likely to cause widespread infringement. The use of the announcement on Adidas’ Twitter feed was not in line with the usual published content, the ASA said, and was also likely to offend.
“Ads should no longer appear in offending forms,” the ASA said. “We told Adidas UK to make sure their ads are not shocking and responsibly targeted.”