In February, adidas announced that the company had retooled its entire line of sports bras to be more embracing of women of all breast sizes and activity levels. The German athletic brand ran a campaign for the collection, which was updated to carry 43 new styles and 72 sizes, with a series of ads that featured photos of bare breasts. This included the use of billboards as well as Twitter, Instagram, and other outlets.
Many people were supportive of the ads, as evidenced by the responses posted to adidas’ tweet and its other social media outlets. However, a number of people in the United Kingdom found the ads too racy, specifically the tweet in question and two of the billboards. So Adidas has now been banned from using them any further in the UK.
Per Business Insider, The UK’s Advertising Standards Authority reportedly approved the campaign before it was launched, though. “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,” the ASA clarified in its written ruling released yesterday. “We noted the breasts were the main focus in the ads, and there was less emphasis on the bras themselves, which were only referred to in the accompanying text.”
And adidas said it complied with concerns and regulations outlined per the ASA by not placing any of the ads near schools or public houses of worship. However, the authority noted 24 complaints calling them “explicit” and “distasteful.” It also determined that since the ads were easily viewable by the public, then they constituted “untargeted media” and could be seen by anyone, namely children.
“The ads must not appear again in the forms complained of,” the ASA added in its ruling. “We told Adidas UK Ltd to ensure their ads did not cause offense and were targeted responsibly.” For its part, Twitter says Adidas did not violate any of the platform’s own standards with the campaign.
Adidas further contends that the photos were simply meant to display the different shapes of women’s breasts and why a broader array of sports bras is necessary. “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,” the company told Business Insider, “which we stand proudly behind.”