British fast-fashion retailer Boohoo was blasted by shoppers this week after an email marketing campaign during the World Cup suggested women would rather be shopping while their husbands and boyfriends watched the big game.
The brand offered female customers in the U.K. discounts during England’s matches against Panama and Tunisia, accompanied by copy like “Feeling Second Best? Put Yourself First and Shop While He Watches the Footy.” Several shoppers tweeted their dissatisfaction with the implication that women wouldn’t be equally interested in sports (particularly during the country’s most-watched television event of the year), as well as with the supposed heteronormative wording. “What about your customers … who are #LGBT & have a non-male significant other, who may or may not enjoy football?” tweeted one fan. “It’s 2018!”
Indeed, Boohoo is far from the first company to miss the mark when it comes to female sports fans: During the Europe Cup in 2014, Heineken and footwear retailer Shoestock ran a promotion encouraging wives and girlfriends to go shoe shopping while the game aired, eventually pulling the ad due to outcry, while this year, Target was slammed for selling women’s shirts with phrases like “Is it Half Time Yet?”
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Another Boohoo customer, a Ph.D. student at Cambridge named Rebecca Lees brought the issue to the Daily Mail, saying she complained to the company after the first email but didn’t receive a response. She said she was particularly disappointed in Boohoo’s promotion of “lazy gender stereotypes” since it was just this week that the company launched its gender-neutral “Love Is Love” collection for Pride Month.
The retailer responded in a statement: “At Boohoo customer satisfaction is our utmost priority. Gender equality and diversity is extremely important to us, and we are sorry that this particular marketing communication has caused offense, this was not intended.
“We continue to focus on promoting gender equality within our ranges, as evidenced by our recent #loveislove collection, and we will ensure that going forward this is reflected within our campaigns.”
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