Fashion retailer Boohoo has paid the price for trying to boost email marketing open rates after incurring the wrath of the ad watchdog for using the phrase “send nudes” in the subject line to promote a range of clothes coloured to resemble skin.
The issue was sparked by just one complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority, which challenged whether the reference to “send nudes” was socially irresponsible.
In its defence, Boohoo said that it targeted its customers by sending them the latest fashion trends, including the trend for “nude” colours. It said that the word was widely used by other retailers in relation to apparel.
In its ruling, the ASA was not convinced that under 18s would be excluded as customers did not have to prove their age and could easily circumvent the T&Cs of the website.
However, the watchdog did recognise the term “nude” was often used in the fashion world to refer to colours similar to skin tones but said the phrase “Send nudes” was more likely to be understood as referring to requests for sexual photos, which could be a form of sexual harassment.
The ASA added: “While the ad played on a well-known phrase to highlight a fashion trend, we considered the specific reference chosen had the effect of making light of a potentially harmful social trend. Furthermore, in the subject heading of an email, without any further context, the phrase ‘Send nudes’ was likely to be disconcerting for some recipients, particularly those who might have personal experience of being asked to ‘send nudes’.”
Banning the ad on the grounds that it was socially irresponsible, Boohoo was sent off with a flea in its ear and a warning not to repeat such tactics.
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