Reese Witherspoon’s Draper James Dress Giveaway Was a Marketing Gimmick, Claims Suit

Reese Witherspoon’s Draper James dress giveaway for teachers was a marketing gimmick to get publicity and free access to applicants’ personal information, claims a lawsuit removed to California district court on Thursday.

The proposed class-action suit, filed in California state court in April, claims that applicants who applied for the giveaway promoted by Draper James were asked to give personal information such as work email addresses, teacher IDs and copies of their work badges without knowledge that the company would use this data.

“[Draper James] failed to disclose the material fact they only intended to provide goods for 250 people — which with the average retail cost of their least expensive goods, was an estimated paltry $12,500 in actual cost to defendants, at a time when other individuals of Witherspoon’s renown were offering millions of dollars to COVID-19 victims,” the complaint reads.

In Draper James’ request for removal to California district court, granted last week, the company calls the suit “an unjust attempt to exploit Draper James’ good intentions to honor the teacher community by gifting hundreds of free dresses.” In addition, Draper James says it disclosed that a only a limited number of dresses were available, and that not every applicant would be eligible.

On April 2, Draper James announced it would give away free dresses to teachers as a way of thanking them for their efforts during the coronavirus crisis. The company, which employs less than 30 people, had 250 dresses to give away. But during the time applications were open, Draper James received nearly 1 million requests — or roughly seven times more than the total number of dresses it sold in 2019.

Faced with an unanticipated mass influx of requests, Draper James began contacting those who applied to let them know the program was actually a raffle rather than a giveaway. It also informed shoppers of the actual number of dresses it had on hand. Draper James claims this was a well-intentioned effort that went awry, but the class members argue the brand “misrepresented and omitted facts [that] would be and are presumptively material to a reasonable consumer.” Further, plaintiffs say they continue to be “bombarded” with emails from the company. Plaintiffs are asking to recover $48 per proposed class member.

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