It happened yesterday as I was waking up; the tweets and responses to the new Boohoo campaign started streaming in. Before I clicked over I knew what had happened. Another ‘inclusive’ campaign with zero representation. My eyes rolled involuntarily as I clicked through to watch. But I’ll get to THAT later. See for yourself this masterpiece of inclusivity.
— boohoo.com (@boohoo) August 7, 2017
See what I mean? Shit show.
As one tweeter said, did you think throwing in some POC and a pregnant woman would suffice as diverse? The short answer is of course not! This is a brand that sells a plus size range, so where are the plus size women? This is touted as an inclusive campaign, so where are the trans or disabled women? Women at all life stages, well where are the older women? Heck, someone over 25 would’ve been close enough. Nowhere to be seen, that’s where.
ALL GIRLS!? Seriously, what were they thinking with that? It’s barely ANY girls. It’s the same girls over and over. It has to be one of those marketing meeting decisions akin to Pepsi’s “Kendall Jenner saves the world” gaffe. Privilege is clearly at play here. How did no one who looked at this campaign or was involved in the all girl crew of this campaign not notice?
Where was the thought “you know what guys, I think we are missing something here?” during this whole thing? Did Boohoo seriously think there was nothing wrong with this? Are we still in the middle of that conversation? Surely not. Yet, here we are.
How did I know before I clicked over?
The short version? I know the brand because I’ve followed their social media on and off for years. At the start of the Boohoo range coming to Australia with their plus size range, I did some work for them on the blog. I’m something of a Boohoo brand expert without having ever exerted any effort to become so. The internet, it does that to a person. Because of that, I KNEW they wouldn’t have plus size women in their campaign, never mind any other level of representation.
If you took one look at their Instagram, you would know. One look at the promotions relating to the website and lookbooks etc. The size of the “Curve” section models are often a cause of complaint within the shopping community. It is, after all, VERY difficult to get an idea of the fit of a garment when it’s pinned to within an inch of its life on a straight size woman. They have shared one photo of the most acceptable type of fat woman (think hourglass, size AU14, with boobs and a butt) in an entire Instagram scroll. I know. I literally just checked their feed.
It’s always the same. They’re aiming their brand squarely at the young, thin, white women that fashion is notorious for celebrating and fawning over while collecting the money from the fat girls behind the scenes. Diversity and inclusion appear to be totally against their branding strategy. So, why did they do it?
Because it’s so in right now.
Yup, I said it. It’s cool to be inclusive. It’s hip to be #GirlPower driven (can we please be women now, please?). But here’s the thing when you pull this rabbit out of the marketing hat, you get it wrong and you piss off a lot of people. Not just in the way that they won’t like the campaign, but in the way that they are fundamentally offended by your brand and what they ‘stand for’. Which, apparently, is nothing.
They proved that today when they tried to use inclusiveness as a way to sell their clothes. Sure, Boohoo could have pulled this dramatic brand shift off, maybe, but the genuine chances of them doing so were slim to none. It takes something, an actual shift in culture and brand identity, to genuinely be inclusive in your promotions and considerations.
Successful transitions rarely happen when a brand (especially one who is so exclusive in its marketing) shouts from the rooftops, out of nowhere, that they are ‘doing inclusivity’. Want to do it? Great, we applaud you. Do it quietly and do it in a way that is genuine. That’s all anyone can ask; of a business, a brand or a person. Try harder.
With one last sigh, that’s my rant done.
Make up your mind how YOU feel about Boohoo’s attempt at inclusivity and what that means for where you spend your shopping dollars. You’re a big girl, it’s entirely up to you. But I know if you’re anything like me this puts a terrible taste in my mouth and I’m waiting to see what they do next. Stay tuned.
Chief Blogger at Suger Coat It; An Australian lifestyle blog for women who work for themselves. Melissa is a social media consultant & lover of stripes. Most weekends you’ll find her at the beach or home on the veranda kicking back. Around here, they call her Suger. Feel free to do the same.