The photographs, which were shot by Sophie Ebrard, received mixed reactions when 25 of them were unveiled on the adidas Twitter account last week. The campaign marks the launch of a new sports bra line from the brand, offering 43 different styles and 72 sizes. Adidas has since unveiled a billboard at its headquarters in Herzogenaurach, Germany, showing all 70 pairs of breasts.
Annie Chiu, creative director at the Amsterdam-based agency, says, “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’.
“Even if just one woman, anywhere in the world, sees this piece and has a little moment of acceptance, then we’ve succeeded,” she continues. “If we change the mind of one woman, who may have been hesitant to do sport, then we’ve succeeded. If a little girl sees this, and grows up loving her body however it may look, then we’ve succeeded.”
Ebrard is no stranger to photographing nudity, or dealing with intimate subjects – having previously documented life on a porn set, and her own experience of motherhood in a project that was a winner in the CR Photography Annual in 2020.
“It’s so rare today to see un-retouched images of breasts like this,” she told CR. “Especially on such a scale, and with such a diversity of breasts. We tried to represent as many women as possible in the casting. Not only body type, or ethnicity but we also have a breast cancer survivor, breastfeeding boobs (with milk about to drop from one of the nipples), a woman who recovered from a 90% burn injury, someone with albinism, someone with vitiligo, and an older woman.”
Despite these intentions, the gallery has caused some to question the brand’s motivations, and whether adidas is using images of nudity as little more than clickbait.
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.
— adidas (@adidas) February 9, 2022
Thierry Albert, executive creative director of the agency, told CR he was “personally amazed that in 2022 we can’t put a gallery of breasts like that on a poster without people freaking out”.
“The goal was not to do clickbait at all, and I work in advertising – it’s easy, sex sells. But that’s what we’re trained to fight against,” he continues.
“If we could get big boobs, small boobs, old boobs, saggy boobs, breastfeeding boobs and just have them on every bus stop, we’d quite soon stop thinking normally boobs are these completely pert, round things,” he continues. “That’s why we also chose to show breasts without bras, the opposite would have diluted the point that breasts come in different shapes and sizes and that adidas believes they all deserve support and comfort.”
Executive Creative Director: Thierry Albert
Creative Director: Annie Chiu
Copywriter: Hana Ovcina, Rachel Yulo
Art Director: Camila Shoji
Director: Sandra Winther
Photographer: Sophie Ebrard
Executive Producer: Rosemarie Praaning
Producers: Elissa Singstock, Annelien Orbie, Elise Hagedoorn, Aleks Podhorodecka
Production Companies: Newland, Cabin, No.8