Complaints raised over a Nike advert featuring pregnant women exercising


COMPLAINTS have been raised to an advertising regulator regarding a Nike ad that featured pregnant women exercising.

The advert which featured on all4 and ITV Hub as well as YouTube received a total of nine complaints made to the ASA.

The broadcast featured scenes of mothers and pregnant women doing heavy sporting activities.

the ad showed pregnant women doing sporting activities - UK and world news
Photo by Pelayo Arbués on Unsplash
The advert showed pregnant women doing heavy workouts.

Some of the activities included boxing, playing football, weightlifting, running and hand cycling.

The advert also showed a range of professional sportswomen like Serena Williams who was featured playing tennis with her daughter.

There was a scene of a woman breast-pumping while looking after her baby and women exercising whilst attending to their babies as well as a pregnant woman in a birthing pool.

A voiceover stated: “Can you be an athlete? You, pregnant. You, a mother. That depends. What is an athlete? An athlete. Someone who moves. Sounds like you. Someone who gets it done, no matter what, you do that. Someone who listens to her body, also you. Someone who defies gravity, you. Someone who deals with the pain, hits her limit, and pushes past it. Pushing, pushing, pushing, someone who earns every single win. You, you, you. So, can you be an athlete? If you aren’t, no one is.”

The ad which Nike aimed to empower women with received nine complaints - UK and World News
Photo by bruce mars on Unsplash
The ad which Nike aimed to empower women with received nine complaints.

The ad accumulated nine complaints regarding the sporting activities that the pregnant women were doing, complaints were raised over the physical harm to the mother and unborn baby.

Some thought that the activities shown in the advert were against the recommended health advice for pregnant women.

Nike responded to the complaints saying that the ad simply showed the power of woman and their bodies.

Nike showcasing the ad aimed to empower and encourage women to continue exercising when pregnant.

The company had sought the advice of a pre and postnatal exercise specialist to make sure that the as followed medical guidelines including the positions of each woman featured in the advert.

Nike stated that the advert did not intend to encourage pregnant women to pick up new physical activities which would harm their health and safety, but instead to showcase the skills of trained athletes who were pregnant or had become new mothers.

Clearcast found that the ad did aim to encourage women to continue to exercise while being pregnant but in line with NHS guidelines.

the ad was found to have followed NHS guidance on pregnant women exercising - UK and World News
Photo by bruce mars on Unsplash
the ad was found to have followed NHS guidance on pregnant women exercising.

The ASA understood that the ad showed professional athletes undertaking sporting activities and found that the ad did not ‘expressly identify that some of the pregnant women were professional sportswomen, and we considered that some viewers would not recognise all the professionals. However, we also considered the ad’s audience would infer that the women featured were all fit and trained individuals who were not new to the sports or exercises they were doing.’

The ASA also found that the ad was in line with NHS guidelines regarding pregnant woman continuing to exercise within their comfort.

The ASA investigated the non-broadcast ads under the CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 1.3 on social responsibility and the broadcast ad under BCAP Code rules 1.2 social responsibility and 4.4 harm and offence but they found that Nike did not breach.