The campaign for sports bras included a tweet on Adidas’ twitter account that showed the bare breasts of 20 women of various skin colours, shapes and sizes in a grid format.
The tweet stated: “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. Explore the new adidas sports bra collection at LINK. #SupportIsEverything.”
The campaign, from February 2022, also included two posters: one showing the bare breasts of 62 women and the other showing pixelated breasts of 64 women, both with the caption “The reasons we didn’t make just one new sports bra”.
The ASA received 24 complaints in response to the ads. Some complainants said the ads’ use of nudity was gratuitous, and objectified women by sexualising them and reducing them to body parts. Others challenged whether the ads were appropriate for display where it could be seen by children.
Adidas UK said it believed the images were “not gratuitous” however, and instead intended to “reflect and celebrate different shapes and sizes, illustrate diversity and demonstrate why tailored support bras were important”.
It added that the images had been cropped to protect the identity of the models and to ensure their safety, and that all models shown had volunteered to be in the ad and were supportive of its aims.
Adidas said it ultimately did not consider the ad to be sexual, and the pictures were intended to “reflect and celebrate different shapes and sizes and they did not believe they would cause harm or distress to children”.
In addition, Twitter said the first ad was an organic, not a paid-for, tweet and while it had been reported by some users, it was not found to be in breach of its terms of service.
Nonetheless, the ASA deemed that the ads were likely to cause widespread offence, and breached its code.