'Shop while he watches the footy': Boohoo apologizes for running 'sexist' World Cup clothing campaign

Yahoo Lifestyle

Boohoo is praised for its body-positive approach to a model’s stretch marks, but not every campaign is a hit.

As the Daily Mail reports, the British online retailer has issued an apology for its World Cup-inspired sales promotion offering female shoppers discount codes to use during the England matches — suggesting that they need distraction while their husbands and boyfriends ignore them to watch sports.

“He’s watching the football again … it’s your perfect excuse to shop!” read one email ad, while another asked, “Feeling second best? Put yourself first and shop while he watches the footy!”

A shirt from Boohoo’s World Cup range. (Photo: Boohoo.com)
A shirt from Boohoo’s World Cup range. (Photo: Boohoo.com)
Boohoo’s World Cup-inspired fashion has faced backlash. (Photo: Boohoo via Facebook)
Boohoo’s World Cup-inspired fashion has faced backlash. (Photo: Boohoo via Facebook)

Longtime customer Rebecca Lees, a doctoral student at Cambridge University, reached out to the retailer via social media to complain about the campaign’s “sexist” message.

“I was annoyed about it because it resorts to lazy gender stereotypes that assume men are all into football and women are shopaholics,” she told the Daily Mail. “It also implies that their female customers will all be heterosexual and it ignores the fact that some customers could be fans of football themselves.

“I find it offensive,” she continued. “It represents a very narrow perspective of women’s and men’s experiences. I know there are plenty of women who like shopping and men who like football, but Boohoo doesn’t need to reinforce these stereotypes.

“I would describe it as sexist. They’re seeking to profit off a stereotype that says women are superficial and ought to spend more money on clothes and accessories. Where are the discount codes for men? I would say that anything that says women are one way and men the other is sexist.”

Other shoppers shared their offense at the ad.



Boohoo has since issued an apology and cites its new gender-neutral collection as proof of its commitment to stomping out stereotypes.

“At Boohoo customer satisfaction is our utmost priority,” a spokesperson said in a statement to the Daily Mail. “Gender equality and diversity is extremely important to us and we are sorry that this particular marketing communication has caused offence, 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.”

But the complaining about the discount code messaging isn’t the only backlash the brand has received since launching its World Cup-inspired collection.

The Lancashire Telegraph newspaper in England reports that some shoppers have criticized Boohoo’s line of sporty crop tops and T-shirts — with slogans like “Prosecco & Goals” and “Single, until the World Cup’s over” — as stereotypical and sexual.

“What Boohoo has done isn’t terrible if this is what gets girls into football, but it doesn’t represent female football fans or footballers,” said Emma Townsley, director of editorial and content editor of This Fan Girl, a group for female sports fans.

“There’s too much focus on sexualization and not enough on the game,” Townsley said. “This clothing is cropped, tight, and slightly clichéd.”

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