May 6, 2020
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Boohoo rapped by advertising watchdog again

May 6, 2020

Fashion company Boohoo has been warned by the UK’s advertising watchdog over unclear advertising claims and the misleading use of a countdown clock.


The Manchester-based business has been again criticised by the Advertising Standards Authority, six months after it was told a “Send Nudes” email campaign was socially irresponsible.

On Wednesday, the ad watchdog ruled that two ads for the online fashion retailer had breached advertising regulations and must not appear again in current form.

It comes after the online brand sent an email campaign to customers in November 2019. The email featured a headline which stated, “UP TO 60% OFF EVERYTHING* + AN EXTRA 10% OFF DRESSES, TOPS AND JUMPSUITS**”.

Two complaints were raised about the campaign, questioning whether it was clear that the asterisk meant that the discount excluded certain lines.

Boohoo, which enjoyed a year-on-year increase in sales in April despite the lockdown, argued that the asterisk corresponded with text below which explained that the discount only applied to selected items.

Additionally, the Boohoo home page displayed a headline which said that the sale ended at 10pm. There was a banner at the top of the page which stated, “FREE NEXT DAY DELIVERY ENDS IN: 00:50:45”.  But at 10pm, the website changed its headline to say that the promotion ended at 11pm, confusing four customers who complained about the site’s “misleading” sale and countdown.

Boohoo acknowledged that the use of a countdown clock was a mistaken use of the format, and said that following an internal review it would not use countdown clocks in ads unless the offer varied on their expiry.

Boohoo Group’s MissPap has also landed in hot water with the advertising authority over the use of a countdown clock. The marketing tool is often used by fashion brands to create a sense of urgency, but the ASA said it is “likely to pressurise consumers into making swift transactional decisions... without giving their purchase the due consideration they normally would.”

MissPap was criticised for not resetting the price of its next-day delivery service once the countdown was over.

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