A Campaign Well-Handled

02 Mar,2022




By Sanjeev Kotnala


Sanjeev KotnalaAdidas showed a 5×5 grid of 25 different pairs of the breast to promote its New Sports Bra. And it vigorously defended the same.


I remember how an NGO demonstrated self-check for female breast cancer using male breasts – as the female picture was not considered safe.


I cannot be faulted for recalling the Laawaris film song “Aapka To Yeh Pasina Khoon Se Bhi Kheemti / Aur Apne Khoon Ki Keemat Yahan Kuch Bhi Nahi“. And for a pleasant surprise, I saw limited and comparatively mild social media angst around brand communication.


Was it because it was Adidas? Or was it that they were not only well-prepared to defend their decision and creative, but had logic, patience and perseverance?


The original tweet read: ‘We believe women’s breasts in all shapes and sizes deserve support and comfort. This is why our new sports bra range contains 43 styles, so everyone can find the right fit for them’.


Later, the hashtag #SupportIsEverything was added to the post under the rational support to promote body positivity. And that, in my view, pulled the plug from future protests or complaints.



Yes, there were complaints of people suggesting that the communication was ‘Not Safe For Work- Not Suitable for Work’ and, more so, not fit for young adults. There were comments, and people questioned the new thing that Adidas was suggesting. Everyone knows breasts look different and are different. That the social platform is hugely public forums and hence such nudity is a No-No. Some even going to the extent of questioning will Adidas now show the male organ for shapes and sizes for the male support garments.



On the other side, one person said: “My wife is one of the women who volunteered to be photographed for this new Adidas campaign. At first, I was very uncomfortable with it, but my wife and her sisters sat me down and taught me the importance of body positivity & female autonomy. I now understand and support Adidas.” Kudos to the person and the woman participating.


Another tweet read: ‘Why does this need to be considered borderline soft porn but men’s bare chest is not. It is time to get over it. The more we see things like this, the less sensational it is.’ It does make sense.


Women were supporting it. Some of the reactions were, ‘This is beyond great! I’m excited to try and fully support this’, and ‘Amazing on normalising the female body all the way and providing the support that our body actually asks for’.



Adidas Reaction:

Now, anyone can predict that there will be polarised reactions. But interesting is how the brand reacted.


Seems Adidas anticipated the possible objections and was ready with the answers. They knew how to defuse the situation.


One interesting detail; the brand’s re-engineered product line was developed by an all-female team. They worked on it after learning that 90% of the sportswomen don’t wear the right size bra.


Adidas did take down the communication from social media but continued with it on their website and outdoor.


Reacting to the mild protest, Adidas went on the offensive to defend the action.



Rationalisting the Argument:

Adidas said: ‘It’s perfectly natural to have breasts. We are happy to celebrate that and won’t be taking this down so we can keep doing so. We want future generations to feel body confident, which is why this gallery is so important to share’.


Now, this is so tough to object to this inclusive approach.


Additionally, pledging their support to sportspersons, Adidas further added, ‘A sports bra is the single most important piece of workout apparel for those with breasts. The confidence and support it gives can significantly impact someone’s performance and ability to stick with the sport. That is, Adidas has re-engineered its entire portfolio, catering to more bodies and workouts than ever before. The images were designed to show just how diverse breasts are, featuring different shapes and sizes that highlight why tailored support is paramount.”




Whenever brands try to live at the edge and go test the boundaries, there will always be two audience types. Polarisation is expected. All it takes is pre-indexing the communication on the SMEAR index, anticipating the possibilities, being ready with counterpoints and having conviction and patience to bear the storm.


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