//** * * */

Running Free not pleased with DDB ads, calls them a hoax

Back in November DDB Canada approached Nick Capra, co-owner of Running Free, a Markham, Ont. athletic apparel store, with an offer to do a pro bono ad campaign - meaning they figured that they had an awesome idea they really wanted to do. The idea was to show what happens when us girls don't have a decent running bra, portraits of women with black eyes and broken noses and the line “Support bras, now available.”
Nick Capra didn't like the ads, but sought the opinions of his co-workers anyway:

“I do things by consensus, so I showed them to everybody at the shop and they all had the same reaction, which was quite negative...They looked like a domestic violence campaign.”

Capra then told DDB he didn't want to use them, and that was that, right?

However, according to Andrew Simon, senior vice-president and creative director at DDB’s Toronto office, Capra gave the agency the go-ahead in writing to produce the ads, though Simon declined to show Marketing a copy of Capra’s approval.

But the ads were sent to adblogs and have thus cause quite a stir on the net, so finally Capra has posted a statement on Running Free’s website calling the ads a “hoax,” “tasteless and offensive” and saying he never authorized the use of the company logo. DDB now wants to apologise and are asking all adbloggers to take the ads down.

Adland® works best in Brave browser. Adland® is supported by your donations alone. You can help us out by donating via Paypal.
Anonymous Adgrunt's picture
Files must be less than 700 KB.
Allowed file types: jpg jpeg gif png wav avi mpeg mpg mov rm flv wmv 3gp mp4 m4v.
Imanaddy's picture

Wow, that is a shit idea. And doing it anyway without the clients approval is even worse.

alex's picture

You know, sometimes I despair. I mean, how much money is Andrew Simon getting – and yet he can't say to his creatives "yes guys, it's quite funny, but it's one for the studio wall only. Now go and do something a bit more mature." Did no-one think: 'that looks like violence'? Did no-one consider it might be a tad sexist, if not misogynist? Are creative departments still full of sniggering schoolboys? Let's not answer that. Sack the CD, or at least make him reimburse the agency for any costs incurred. Rant over*

*I'm not having a great day

Dabitch's picture

As a sports bra wearer, I just think it's a stupid idea. Not shocking, just bad. Shocking to others perhaps, but they are not the target market and I am.

adlib's picture

Childish rubbish. Running Free should sue.
Important Announcement Regarding Hoax "Running Free Bra Ads"

On Friday, February 22, 2008 several fictitious "ads" began appearing all over the internet. These ads were tasteless and offensive. It also included our Running Free logo and branding. WE DID NOT IN ANYWAY AUTHORIZE THE USE OF OUR LOGO IN ASSOCIATION WITH THESE "ADS". Several months ago we were approached by the ad agency DDB Toronto. They came to us with a "pro-bono advertising opportunity" and asked to pitch us an idea. They did so and presented these disturbing images. Our reaction was - "we will never run those!" That is how it was left off. As co-owner of Running Free I am embarrassed and ashamed to have our company associated with this pathetic excuse for marketing. I apologize on behalf of the whole crew here at Running Free for the anger and frustration created by those images.

Nick Capra, co-owner Running Free

Dabitch's picture

Well the hoax ads are still out there. Advertolog has them, adsoftheworld has them, coloribus has them (wait that looks exactly like advertolog doesn't it? What's going on there?).. anyway, on neither one of these sites are the ads listed as Spec or non commisioned work, so it's no wonder people thought they were real.

caffeinegoddess's picture


Dalbir's picture

How true. Since I have been running adofdamonth, every now and then I get requests from creatives or their agencies to take down their ads as the clients haven't seen them or have a problem with the ads. Why take such a big risk.


Dabitch's picture

We get those same requests, which is why we wait before posting things (from new contacts) now. I don't like removing posts. We'll happily mark spec work spec though.

andromeda's picture

Those ads are idiotic, twice. As an idea selling sports bras they're just insulting, not funny. Running it when the client has said no is something that a fresh out of portfolio school kid would do and not a worldwide ad agency. Sad.

melodies's picture

There are always two sides to every story, especially in this case. Running Free was saying this campaign was a hoax, but what they didn’t admit was it was approved by the store’s owner and then displayed in his store. It wasn’t until he received some negative feedback that he changed his tune. The campaign was supposed to be impactful and make light of the need for a support bra. It was not intended to upset anyone, I’m sure the young women who developed the ads and posted it to the ad blogs didn’t anticipate they would upset anyone. There’s no way DDB Canada would ever intentionally make fun of a serious social issue or intentionally do something to harm a client’s reputation. Chalk it up to a bad judgment call made by two junior creatives. From what I’ve read, DDB Canada has already made a public apology to everyone they might have offended with these ads and have also come to an agreement with Running Free to rectify the situation. Why can’t people just own up and admit to their mistakes? Every business makes mistakes in judgment, but not everyone is brave enough to own up to them.

Dabitch's picture

The two sides are presented in my post - see the second block-quote where Andrew Simon tells Marketing in Canada that they have the go-ahead from Capra in writing - but declines to show it to Jeromy Lloyd who wrote the article at Marketing. Showing that contract to a journalist would have cleared the whole mess up at once, don't you think?

At Feministing the post with the ad images gathered many many comments and at the way bottom (where the link will take you) you'll see that Nick Capra, someone named Frank Capra at DDB Canada and a creative team by the names of Alexandra and Courtney throw in their two contradicting cents each.

Are Frank and Nick related by the way?
Trendhunter have similar comments under their post and another appearance of Alexandra and Courtney.

andromeda's picture

According to Simon, the agency was given instructions to upload the ads to the store’s printing company and that they did appear in the Markham retail location.

Capra denies they appeared in-store, and maintains that he never gave permission to print the ads beyond the initial run that produced the review copies.

This is very much a he said she said thing isn't it? Can someone produce a photo of the ads appearing in-store?

melodies's picture

I don't think Frank from DDB Canada's last name is Capra. I believe its Palmer. No relation to Nick Capra.

Dabitch's picture

Thanks, yeah I thought that was a bit weird and seemed to be a posting mistake from the person who relayed that comment.

Plywood's picture

These ads are bad.

But you'd think DDB would have learned its lesson from this fiasco:


Dabitch's picture

Are you saying that those nose-cups were fake? Or simply failed?

andromeda's picture


Mr. Capra signed a form giving approval to the ads and displayed them in his store, Mr. Leonard added.

Jeremy Robertson, manager of Running Free, said that is simply untrue.

"We certainly didn't - you can ask any one of our staff," he said, explaining Mr. Capra gave an interim sign-off to go ahead with proofs but when he saw the work he did not want to use it. "It was made very clear to them that we could not use them." Mr. Capra was not available for comment.

The ad's creators, copywriter Courtney Colomby and art director Alexandra Wells, posted an apology "to everyone we've offended," on the Web site Trendhunter. "We are both avid runners and the ads were intended to make light of the need for support bras. We didn't anticipate they would upset so many people, nor would we ever trivialize the issue of battered women. We sincerely regret using these images in the way that we did."