'Send nudes' Boohoo email marketing deemed socially irresponsible

Online fashion retailer Boohoo.com has been warned not to use the term “send nudes” in its future marketing and told to ensure its advertising is socially responsible.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) industry watchdog said today (16 October) that it had upheld a complaint about Boohoo’s use of the phrase in email marketing, saying it “was likely to be understood as referring to requests for sexual photos, which could be a form of sexual harassment”.

In its assessment of the case, the ASA acknowledged Boohoo’s response to the complaint that the term “nude” was commonly described to refer to colours that were similar to some people’s skin tones, but warned it has other connotations.

“We noted that increased pressure to share such photos had been linked to negative outcomes for young people,” the watchdog commented.

“Boohoo’s target market was aged 16 to 24. We noted that the ad had only been sent to those who self-declared that they were over 18, but online age was often misreported, and we had not been provided with details of any further steps Boohoo had taken to reduce the likelihood of under-18s being targeted with the ad.”

It added that the marketing “played on a well-known phrase to highlight a fashion trend”, but warned the terminology had the effect of making light of a potentially harmful social trend.

The ASA drew attention to the fact “send nudes” was used in the heading of an email, without any further context, arguing the term could have been disconcerting for some recipients.

Boohoo said the word was widely used by other retailers in relation to apparel. It also argued that to sign up its website, the terms of use stipulated that the individual must be at least 18 years of age.

The retailer also noted the ad was sent to individuals who had agreed to Boohoo’s terms of use, and it should not have been sent to any individual under 16 years old.

Fellow Manchester-based fast fashion e-tailer Missguided also had it knuckles rapped by the ASA today, with a video on demand advert broadcast during ITV’s Love Island in June said to be “overly sexualised”.

The ad in question opened with a close-up of a woman’s mouth as she held a strawberry between her lips before showing young women in swimwear on a boat in what the ASA described as “seductive positions”. The watchdog said the ad must not appear again in its current form, telling Missguided it objectified women and was likely to cause “serious offence”.

In response, the retailer said the ad’s aim was to promote several items within its summer collection which included swimwear, clothing and accessories, adding that the ad was shot to display “empowering, confident young women” in line with themes expressed in Love Island itself.

Referring to the model who was running her hands up her inner thigh – one of the focus areas of the complaint – Missguided argued she was wearing full length trousers and used a hand gesture to focus the eye of the viewer on the clothing. It added that the shot of models in thong bikinis was in order to show the bikini from behind.

Broadcaster ITV said the ad depicted similar values, swimwear and scenes to that displayed in the Love Island programme, adding it was surprised a viewer of the show had considered the content of the ad offensive.