Brazil Asks Adidas to Stop Marketing Sexual Stereotypes

October 20, 2016

After receiving complaints from the Brazilian government, Adidas has agreed to stop selling sexually explicit t-shirts that associate the World Cup host country with hyper-sexualized stereotypes.1

The government stated that these shirts help to promote sexual tourism. As the World Cup approaches, President Dilma Rousseff has vowed to crack down on sex tourism and the exploitation of children. Rejecting these sexual stereotypes is the first step in changing Brazil’s association as a destination for sex tourism.

On Tuesday, Adidas indicated that these shirts, which were produced as a limited edition only for sale in the United States, will no longer be sold. One of the designs for sale depicted a tan woman in a bikini standing in front of the famous Pão de Açúcar of Rio de Janeiro with the words “Lookin’ to Score” across the top. The second shirt says “I (heart) Brazil”, however, the heart resembles the shape of a woman’s thong-clad behind.

The Brazilian tourism board, Embratur, released a statement which said, “Embratur strongly repudiates the sale of products that link Brazil's image to sexual appeal.”1With regard to the issue of sex tourism, the president of the board, Flavio Dino, stated, "We want to make it very clear to our main commercial partners in tourism that Brazil does not tolerate this type of crime in its territory.”2 He continued, "This campaign goes against what Brazil defends. Our effort is to promote Brazil for its natural and cultural attributes. An initiative like this one ignores and disrespects the message the government is trying to get across."

For children in Brazil, sexual violence is one of the highest reported crimes.3 Despite this frightening fact, Brazil is not alone in combatting child prostitution. A recent campaign created by the charity Happy Child in London warns fans travelling to Brazil that paying for sex with anyone under the age of 18 is a crime, and that they would face prosecution in Brazil or the UK for any violations. 

Another charity, Childhood Brazil, also fights locally for the awareness of this issue. One member of this charity, Anna Flora Werneck states that sporting events are a time when prostitution and sexual tourism surge. She claims, “major sports events increase vulnerability. Children are displaced due to building projects; they are not at school and are unsupervised; there may be alcohol and drugs; friends tell them sex with a foreigner could transform their life."3

In light of this issue, the Brazilian government has worked hard to extinguish the sexual stereotypes associated with their country. Shutting down Adidas’ sexy t-shirt production is one small step in the fight against sexual tourism and prostitution. President Rousseff continues to be an advocate for women’s and children’s rights, showing that those who come to the World Cup “lookin’ to score” will have to face Brazil’s defense.


Works Cited:

1) “Adidas to stop selling Brazil World Cup T-shirts that ‘encourage sexual tourism’.” The Guardian. Guardian News. 26 Feb. 2014. Web. 26 Feb. 2014.

2) Azzoni, Tales. “Adidas Stops Selling Sexy Brazil World Cup Shirts.” ABC News. ABC News. 25 Feb. 2014. Web 26 Feb. 2014.

3) Griffin, Jo. “Child sex tourism warning for fans attending World Cup in Brazil.” The Guardian. Guardian News. 08 Feb. 2014. Web. 26 Feb. 2014.


About Author(s)

Madeline Townsend
Madeline is a senior at the University of Pittsburgh. She is pursuing a degree in Spanish and Global Studies, with a focus on the Latin American region. She plans to present an honors thesis on visual representations of the internal conflict that occurred in Peru between 1980 and 2000. She also studies Portuguese and Film Studies as minors and works as one of the Panoramas interns.