Adidas went controversial when it decided to display the bare breasts of 25 women in a recent advertising campaign for its sports bras.
Now, an independent advertising regulator in the UK has banned the campaign.
The advertising campaign, which launched in February, featured 25 images of bare breasts in an unedited, grid-format, with faces and lower bodies cropped out. Adidas shared the image on Twitter on February 9 with the caption “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.” Adidas also shared a similar photo in a poster format with the nipples blurred out.
The UK-based Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) on Wednesday announced that after receiving 24 complaints about the ads, Adidas could no longer display these ads on Twitter, ruling that the images breached certain UK advertising codes related to harm and offense as well as social responsibility.
The ASA acknowledged that it did not consider these images to be sexually explicit or objectifying to women, but they did show “explicit nudity.” Even in the version that pixelated the nipples, the ASA ruled that “the breasts were still visible and recognizably naked.”
In its response to ASA, Adidas UK said it did not believe the images were “gratuitous” or “sexual,” but were rather meant to “reflect and celebrate different shapes and sizes, illustrate diversity and demonstrate why tailored support bras were important.” Adidas also said the images had been cropped to protect the identity of each model.
“The gallery creative was designed to show just how diverse breasts are, featuring different shapes and sizes that highlight why tailored support is paramount,” an Adidas spokesperson told FN in a statement. “It is important to note that the ASA ruling was related to this creative being used in an untargeted fashion rather than the creative itself and the message, which we stand proudly behind.”
Twitter said the advertisement on the platform was organic and had not been paid for and did not violate the terms of service, though some people did report it.
The ASA said it told Adidas UK to make sure their ads are “targeted responsibly” without causing harm or offense.