The Advertising Standards Authority in the United Kingdom has prohibited Adidas advertising that feature photo grids of bare breasts.
A grid of images of several women’s unclothed chests appeared on the apparel company’s promotional material for its sports bras, which was issued in February. The photos, which appeared in a tweet and two posters, were meant to emphasise body diversity and Adidas’ efforts to cater to people of all shapes and sizes.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) stated it had received 24 complaints about the advertising.
According to the ASA judgement, which was published online Wednesday, some people believed that using nudity for no reason objectified women by sexualizing them and reduced them to body parts. Others questioned whether the poster advertisements should be shown where children may view them.
Both complaints were upheld, and the advertising were ordered not to appear in the same form again, according to the authority.
“The ads’ objective was to indicate that women’s breasts differed in shape and size, which was relevant to the sports bras being advertised,” the ASA said.
It did, however, add: “We assumed that showing nude breasts would be interpreted as explicit nudity. We noticed that the advertising focused mostly on the breasts, with the bras themselves receiving only passing mention in the accompanying text.”
“Because the ads contained graphic nudity, we judged that they required careful targeting to avoid offending people who watched them,” the ASA continued.
The promotion was supported by Adidas.
“The gallery creative was created to show exactly how diverse breasts are, incorporating different forms and sizes that highlight why customised support is vital,” Adidas said in a statement to CNN Business on Thursday.
It’s crucial to highlight that the ASA judgement concerned the usage of this creative in an untargeted manner, not the creative itself or the message, which we happily support.”
Controversial ads divide opinion
In February, Adidas’ commercial went viral.
The advertisement was pinned to the company’s Twitter profile with a link to the bra collection. #SupportIsEverything was the tagline of the advertisement.
“We believe all women’s breasts deserve support and comfort,” Adidas stated in the commercial. “That’s why our new sports bra collection includes 43 styles, ensuring that everyone can find the perfect fit.”
“The reasons we didn’t develop just one new sports bra,” Adidas said on a banner that showed the identical cropped photos of 62 women’s naked breasts.
The identical words and cropped photographs of 64 women appeared on another poster, but their nipples were hidden by pixilation.
On Twitter, both women and men chimed in on Adidas’ marketing gimmick, with varied results.
Some Twitter users, especially female buyers, expressed their preference for seeing bras rather than breasts. Others complained that the advertisement was inappropriate or that it had taken them off guard and confused them. Some individuals thought it was brave and praised Adidas for it.