Reese Witherspoon’s company, Draper James, was recently hit with a lawsuit over allegations its recent dress giveaway was nothing more than a marketing stunt.
Reese Witherspoon is in hot water after a group of women filed a class-action lawsuit against her clothing company, Draper James, over allegations that the company’s ‘free dresses for teachers’ Instagram giveaway “was all a marketing stunt to get their personal information.” Representatives for the company have since pushed back against the claims. But what happened, exactly?
For those who don’t know, Draper James offered to give free dresses to teachers during the COVID-19 crisis. The announcement was made on April 2 and was posted to the company’s Instagram page where 760,000 followers learned of the giveaway. The post read:
“Dear Teachers: We want to say thank you. During quarantine, we see you working harder than ever to educate our children. To show our gratitude, Draper James would like to give teachers a free dress.”
The announcement also included the following disclaimer: “offer valid while supplies last – winners will be notified on Tuesday, April 7th.”
To enter the giveaway, teachers filled out a form that allegedly “asked for their contact information but also sensitive education employee identification information, including pictures of their school IDs, the grade level and subjects they teach as well as their school name and state,” according to the suit.
Soon after the announcement of the giveaway, the company “became overwhelmed after nearly 1 million teachers reportedly entered their information for a free dress.” In fact, enthusiasm was so overwhelming that the “giveaway form crashed almost immediately.” By the time the application closed, about one million teachers had signed up. Eventually, the company had to clarify that it “only had 250 dresses to give out.” That clarification seems to have upset some teachers, so much so that a group of teachers is now arguing the “giveaway was nothing more than a marketing stunt,” even though the giveaway’s disclaimer mentioned there was only a limited supply of dresses available.
To counter the outrage from upset teachers, the company offered many of those who did not win a dress a 30% discount. That has not stopped the anger, though, as proved by the class-action suit. The suit argues the “giveaway wasn’t just a misstep that spiraled out of control but a false and deceptive lottery.” It further argues “that Draper James could use the personal information to convert applicants into new customers.” Additionally, the suit notes that “for context, Draper James sold approximately 150,000 dresses in 2019, so the giveaway greatly expanded its customer database.” It states:
“Even if only a small percentage of these consumers used Defendants’ discount or responded to their subsequent promotions, Defendants would still make more from these new clients than they would in the estimated cost of their offer, thereby turning what was promoted by Defendants to be a charitable gesture into a money-making ploy to improve their image while at the same time developing a customer list to exploit and make money at the time of this national crises — all at the expense of educators who are on the front line of this crisis.”
Theane Evangelis, the lawyer representing Draper James, said the suit is baseless and added:
“This lawsuit is an unjust attempt to exploit Draper James’ good intentions to honor the teacher community by gifting hundreds of free dresses…Draper James looks forward to defending this case, to continue its efforts to acknowledge the extraordinary contributions made by teachers during this time of need, and to being vindicated in court.”