Online fashion retailer reprimanded by advertising watchdog
Manchester-based online fashion retailer Boohoo, and a subsidiary, have been rapped by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).
It follows complaints about offers by Boohoo and MissPap.
Boohoo used an email featuring a headline which stated, “UP TO 60% OFF EVERYTHING* + AN EXTRA 10% OFF DRESSES, TOPS AND JUMPSUITS**”.
Smaller text below stated, “USE CODE: PARTY10 ENDS MIDNIGHT”.
The corresponding asterisk stated, “*Up to 60% off everything is automatically applied and applicable to selected lines only. Limited time only. ** Use code PARTY10 for an extra 10% off dresses, tops & jumpsuits. Excluding sale and applicable to selected lines only. Ends midnight 04.11.2019”.
Also, the Boohoo home page displayed a headline which stated “UP TO 75% OFF ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING + AN EXTRA 10% OFF! CODE: EXTRA. ENDS 10PM”.
There was a banner at the top of the page which stated, “FREE NEXT DAY DELIVERY ENDS IN: 00:50:45”.
At 10pm the Boohoo home page displayed the headline, “UP TO 75% OFF ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING + AN EXTRA 10% OFF! CODE: EXTRA. ENDS 11PM”. There was another banner at the top of the page which stated, “FREE DELIVERY ENDS IN: 00:59:17”.
Two complainants, who understood that the claim “up to 60% off everything” in the first ad only applied to selected items, challenged whether the claim was misleading.
Four complainants, who understood that the offers reset after the countdown clock reached zero, challenged whether the second ad misleadingly implied “UP TO 75% OFF ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING + AN EXTRA 10% OFF!” would revert to the higher price once the countdown was over.
Boohoo said the asterisk corresponded with text below which explained that the discount excluded certain lines. Boohoo believed that qualification made it clear to the consumer that the excluded products were items that were typically excluded from all promotions they offered.
It 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.
Both complaints were upheld by the ASA, which told Boohoo the ads must not appear again in their current form.
The MissPap website showed photographs of various products, seen on January 8, 2020.
A banner at the top of the page stated, “£1.99 NEXT DAY DELIVERY*” in bold black font on a pink background. Smaller text below that stated, “HURRY ENDS IN 00H 02M 13S”. The countdown clock reset when it reached zero alongside the offer “£1 NEXT DAY DELIVERY!”.
The ASA challenged whether the ad misleadingly implied the price would revert to the higher price once the countdown was over, when it actually continued at a better price after the countdown clock reached zero.
MissPap stated that there was no evidence which suggested the average consumer would have been influenced to make a different choice. It argued that it was not industry practice to disclose details of the promotional calendar to the customer, in particular highlighting the monetary value of the next promotion.
It added that retailers would not offer a promotion with an explanation that once that promotion ends a ‘better offer’ promotion would begin.
However, the ASA said the countdown clock was likely to pressurise consumers into making swift transactional decisions, including purchasing the product, without giving their purchase the due consideration they normally would because of the misleading implication in the ad that the offer would run out at the end of the time period.
It ruled the ad must not appear again in its current form.