An Adidas sports bra advert has been banned after the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) received complaints that it ‘objectified women’.
The advert appeared on Twitter in February and featured the images of the breasts of 20 women of all shapes, sizes and skin colours.
The company said it was meant to ‘reflect and celebrate different shapes and sizes, illustrate diversity and demonstrate why tailored support bras were important,’ according to the company.
The advert itself read: ‘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.’
Two other posters showed similar cropped images of 62 and 64 women, and stated: ‘The reasons we didn’t make just one new sports bra.’
Twitter said the advert, which was organic and not paid advertising, was reported by some users, but was not found to be in breach of the site’s content policy.
However, the ASA said it received 24 complaints that the ads’ use of nudity was gratuitous and objectified women by sexualising them and ‘reducing them to body parts’.
People also complained that the posters could have been seen by children.
Adidas said the women pictured had been photographed consensually and their faces had been hidden to protect their identity and safety.
The company said: ‘All the models shown had volunteered to be in the ad and were supportive of its aims.
‘Adidas did not consider the ad to be sexual; they intended to show breasts simply as a part of a woman’s body.’
The company said its ad agency submitted the posters to the copy advice team.
They said the images were not sexual and did not appear to objectify women, however, there was ‘risk attached to the use of nudity in commercial advertising, especially in untargeted spaces’.
However, the ASA banned the adverts and said they must not appear in the forms complained of.
It said: ‘Although we did not consider that the way the women were portrayed was sexually explicit or objectified them, we considered that the depiction of naked breasts was likely to be seen as explicit nudity.
‘As the ads contained explicit nudity, we considered that they required careful targeting to avoid causing offence to those who viewed them.’
Of the posters, the ASA said: ‘We considered that the image was not suitable for use in untargeted media, particularly where it could be seen by children.
‘We concluded that (the posters) were inappropriately targeted, and were likely to cause widespread offence.’
It also said that the tweet showing bare nipples was not in line with the usual content of the Adidas Twitter account and therefore was likely to cause ‘widespread offence’ on the site.
In response to the ruling, Adidas said it stands ‘proudly’ behind the message of the advert and said the ruling was ‘related to this creative being used in an untargeted fashion on email / banner ads /etc rather than the creative itself’.
A spokesman for the brand said: ‘At Adidas, we believe everybody in sport deserves to be supported.
‘That is why we tirelessly innovate to meet the needs of our diverse community, helping more people experience the life-changing benefits of sport. The confidence and support a sports bra gives can have a significant impact on someone’s performance and ability to stick with sport.
‘That is why we have re-engineered our entire portfolio, catering to more bodies and workouts than ever before. The gallery creative was designed to show just how diverse breasts are, featuring different shapes and sizes that highlight why tailored support is paramount.
‘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.’
While some Twitter users defended the ban, others did not understand the reasoning.
One user blamed the ban on double standards: ‘Breasts are not genitals,’ they wrote.
‘Male nipples are in ads all the time.’
Another said: ‘Breasts are breasts.
However, others suggested that the use of nudity was unnecessary, with one person writing: ‘Do breasts have to be disembodied and shown en masse to emphasise their variety?
‘Why not show XXS to XXL women wearing them, show their faces, name them.
‘I think Adidas want the “noise” here.’
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