Berlei’s ‘offensive’ bouncing breast ad cleared by watchdog despite over 130 complaints

Berlei’s latest television commercial, which depicts small stress-balls shaped like breasts bouncing around, has been cleared by the ad watchdog despite receiving over 130 complaints to the self-regulatory board.

Viewers who complained to Ad Standards about the ad, labelled it as “graphic”, “offensive”,  “degrading”, “inappropriate”, “violent” and “aggressive”.

One complaint said the ad reinforced inequality between men and women: “I was offended by this because men need scrotal support with their exercising but there is no way you would have tiny little balls flying around the screen with everyone grabbing them like they were free for all. No. That would be inappropriate. So why is it inappropriate for men and not women? It’s just another way we are sending out mixed messages and reinforcing inequality between men and women.”

Another labelled the ad as degrading towards women: “The naked body is private and children should be taught that it is not ok to present the female body in such a way that it degrades women.”

Other complaints took offence to the ad as it was too “violent” for showing breasts being kicked around, while others said it was “disrespectful” to those who may have had their breasts removed due to breast cancers.

When the ad, created by The Monkeys, was released, it was positioned as aiming to empower women of all sizes and ages to take care of their breasts and invest in a sports bra which is right for their chosen sport or method of physical activity.

A screen grab from the ad

In response to the complaints, Berlei said the ad was designed to “dramatise” the impact playing sport can have on women’s breasts.

“The dramatisation urges women to stop their breasts ‘playing their own game’. There are no real body parts used in the advertisement and as such, no nudity,” Berlei said when defending the ad.

The advertiser also noted that the breasts and nipples exposed in the ad do not sexualise the female body and the ad doesn’t “humiliate, intimidate or incite hatred”.

“It is an important health message that educates and encourages all women to feel empowered to invest in themselves and, contrary to what is currently occurring, use an appropriate sports bra when exercising so as to avoid damage to their bodies.

“There is nothing sexual about the presentation of the bouncing balls or the ladies exercising and no attempt to debase or degrade women for the enjoyment of others,” Berlei concluded.

Ad Standards agreed, finding the ad wasn’t inappropriate in the context of advertising sports bras and the ad merely represents what happens to women’s breast when exercising.

“The advertisement does not employ sexual appeal and that the purpose of the advertisement is to highlight the importance of women having proper support for their breasts when exercising to
avoid potential harm to delicate breast tissue and ligaments.”

Dismissing over 100 complaints, the ad watchdog found that the ad isn’t sexually suggestive, violent or inappropriate as no real female breasts are shown.

This is not the first time the advertiser has come under fire, with Facebook and Instagram banning its last ad for ‘fear of potential offence’. However, Ad Standards dismissed the complaints deeming the ad safe to air.


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