5-Star adidas Gets Inclusion Right

5-Star adidas Gets Inclusion Right


adidas’ “Support For All” sports bra campaign had a high-profile start last month when the brand tweeted 25 pictures of bare breasts. The social media stunt got them a lot of press but it had a very real point to make – each of the pictures showed the marks left after wearing badly-fitted sports bras. Sports bras have the same problem as many types of women’s clothing – they’re designed with ideal bodies in mind, not real ones. It’s critical for sports bra ranges to be inclusive across ages, sizes and body types, as feeling comfortable and supported (in a literal and metaphorical way) is vital to give women the confidence to exercise.

The inclusive message and the determination to show real lives and bodies continues with the campaign’s TV ads, and results from the Test Your Ad platform show it’s hitting home. This ad is a 15-second spot showing model Ellie Goldstein and her dance teacher Becca exercising together with a voiceover from Ellie talking about how Becca has always supported her.

Emotionally, the ad is a huge success. It gets 5.0-Stars in Test Your Ad, an Exceptional rating and one which puts it at the top of our sports and leisure rankings in the UK. It’s a particularly strong score given the ad is so short – it’s never easy to get the top 5-Star rating but with little space to build a story or create emotional impact, short ads have it even tougher. “Support For All” keeps things simple to build a wave of positive emotion within seconds of the ad starting.

One of the most striking things about the ad, particularly from an inclusion perspective, is that it’s narrated from the point of view of a person with disabilities. It’s become more common for disabled people to get screen time in ads and have their stories be the focus of commercials, but it’s still rare to hear their voices and their own words on screen. adidas breaks this barrier, and in doing so it shows that there’s no reason for it to exist – giving the daughter the opportunity to speak for herself is part of what makes the ad so effective so quickly.

In our 2021 Feeling Seen report on inclusion in advertising – published with ITV – we looked at the representation in ads of people with disabilities. We found that while brands were keen on “saviour” narratives (eg developing tech to help disabled people do things), those ads were sometimes less popular among disabled people themselves. People with disabilities would like to see more visibility for themselves as individuals with agency and voices of their own, not simply as the recipients of help. adidas has done exactly this, putting a disabled person’s voice to the fore and showing clearly that its campaign is based around supporting every woman athlete in their own goals and choices. The 5-Star results show that they got it right.