Behind Adidas' bare-breasted sports bra ad

TBWA/Neboko was behind campaign, which also included a billboard in Germany

Published On
Feb 11, 2022

Editor's Pick

Is it OK to show 25 pairs of bare breasts in an ad in 2022? Adidas has been finding out with reactions to a social ad for its new sports bras that features a gallery of images of breasts of all shapes and sizes, belonging to anonymous women. Perhaps the answer is yes in the Netherlands, where TBWA\Neboko, the agency behind the campaign, is based. But it's possible that other markets, including the U.S., aren't ready yet.

The brand tweeted the ad on Wednesday, along with the words: "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."

The ad, which is called the "Breast Gallery," was pre-launched as part of a broader campaign to introduce Adidas’ new sports bra line, which features 43 different styles and 72 sizes. The new collection is due to be launched on Valentine's Day. 

As well as placing the posts on Twitter and Instagram, the brand also put up a billboard featuring the images at the Adidas headquarters in Herzogenaurach, Germany.

The campaign and product offering was born out of the fact that 90% of women aren’t wearing the right sports bra. According to TBWA\Neboko, it was created by a female-led team, using photography by Sophie Ebrard, who is known for photographing women in the nude as personal projects and studies of the female form, physically and emotionally.

The individual images were cropped below the neck to ensure anonymity and a focus on the women's breasts. The agency stated that the "photography approach is heavily inspired by the visual language of photo-journaling, using the lens to tell intimate, personal stories of our athletes, models and product."

The post was soon being feverishly shared, with Twitters users polarized between applauding its message and criticizing its graphic nature. Some accused it of being gratuitous or deliberately provocative; one called the ad "borderline soft porn" while another user commented on the fact that the breasts were pictured without faces to go with them. 

Adidas' social team responded directly to some of the critics, saying it was time to remove the "stigma" of showing bare breasts and celebrate women's bodies.

“As a creative director, we always hope to create work that impacts culture for real change," said Annie Chiu, creative director at TBWA\Neboko. "For women in sport, there is still a long way to go, but it’s steps like this that opens the door for more. In seeing this campaign, I hope that all women look at the Breast Gallery and have the same epiphany I had, ‘my body is normal and it’s perfect just the way it is.’”

“Staying true to Adidas' purpose, ‘Sport has the power to change lives,’ this campaign will hopefully have a positive impact, helping women feel seen and finally accepted in sport, no matter their body shape or size," added Natalia Forster, business director at the agency.

While opinion might be divided on the Adidas post, there is no doubt that it has got people talking about Adidas sports bras. The original tweet has over 25,000 likes so far and more than 14,000 retweets.

Brands including Playboy also responded. Advertising industry commentators have also weighed in on the issue, including MakeLoveNotPorn founder and former BBH exec Cindy Gallop, who called it "entirely justified" in an article in the Wall Street Journal.

Adidas' move comes after several other brands have shown bare-breasted women in online videos recently, as advertisers get more open about showing the human body and bodily functions. Frida Mom highlighted the trials of breastfeeding in an ad last year that showed women's bare breasts (although the broadcast version, which ran during the Golden Globes, covered them up somewhat) and baby products brand Tommee Tippee also openly showed breastfeeding in an online spot.

And, going back a little further, Adidas' rival Nike launched a print campaign for sports bras in 1999 that also showed women topless—although at least one publisher requested Nike cover the nipples in issues that would appear on newsstands.

Another social post in the Adidas campaign shows marks women have on their skin after removing sports bras and includes the line “The best part of your workout shouldn't be taking your sports bra off.”

TBWA\Neboko also created a video that shows women wearing the new collection while working out, featuring diverse and inclusive casting. The tagline is “Support is everything.”



A post shared by adidas (@adidas)


Feb 11, 2022
Client :
Agency :
Senior Vice President Global Marketing :
Vicky Free
Global SVP & GM sportswear :
Aimee Arana
VP Brand Comms :
Flo Alt
Sr Director Brand Communications :
Ole Westerholt
Manager Brand Communications :
Katja Kusche
Senior Adidas producer :
Holly Craggs
Senior Adidas producer :
Eva Pineda
Senior production lead :
Maliyali Okoi-Obuli
Design Director :
Eva-Maria Miller
Design Director :
Maria Giorgiani
Brand Design Senior Project manager :
Caitriona Morgan
Global Brand Communications, Social Media & Partner Publishing :
Hannah Esser
Global Social Media & Partner Publishing Manager :
Michelle Keiter
Global Communications Manager :
Marie Vogel
Global Senior Communications Manager :
Johanna Hofman
Media Lead Europe :
Robert Seidu
Global Retail Director :
Clara Dooley
Senior Manager Digital & Retail Marketing :
Brendan Monnier
Executive Creative Director :
Thierry Albert
Creative Director :
Annie Chiu
Copywriter :
Hana Ovcina
Art Director :
Camila Shoji
Director :
Sandra Winther
Photographer :
Sophie Ebrard
Business Director :
Natalia Forster
Brand Director :
Danielle Ingham
Brand Director :
Mounir Bekkouche
Brand Manager :
Ilona Baste
Brand Coordinator :
Sascha Hak
Executive Producer :
Rosemarie Praaning
Producer :
Elissa Singstock
Producer :
Annelien Orbie
Producer :
Elise Hagedoorn
Producer :
Aleks Podhorodecka
Production Company :
Production Company :
Cabin Edit
Production Company :
Partner Agency :
The Midnight Club
Partner Agency :
Partner Agency :
Partner Agency :
Hill+Knowlton Strategies
Partner Agency :
Partner Agency :

Need a credit fix? Contact the Creativity Editors