Jun 2020

Dress Giveaway Contest Gone Wrong – Make Sure the Language is Clear

Three women recently filed a lawsuit against actress Reese Witherspoon and her Draper James clothing company for a dress giveaway gone wrong.

In the early days of the pandemic quarantine, Reese and Draper James offered to give teachers a free dress as a show of gratitude for their hard work.  Their Instagram offer stated – “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 lawsuit states that the offer required personal and sensitive contact information be provided to the fashion company.  After providing the contact details, those applicants who participated in the free dress contest would be notified by April 7th.

While the Instagram post clearly stated the offer was valid “while supplies last”, the plaintiffs say the offer didn’t make it clear the clothing company only had 250 dresses to give away.

According to the lawsuit, nearly 1 million teachers believing they would receive a free dress, provided personal information to the company and were entered into a lottery with a slim chance of winning.  The plaintiffs are alleging Witherspoon and her company were also benefitting from the publicity of the dress giveaway.

In a recent TMZ story, Draper James’ attorney Theane Evangelis stated, “This lawsuit is an unjust attempt to exploit Draper James’ good intentions to honor the teacher community by gifting hundreds of free dresses. The fact that supplies were limited, such that a free dress could not be provided to every teacher who responded, was disclosed and is no basis for a lawsuit.”

She continues, “Draper James looks forward to defending this case, to continuing its efforts to acknowledge the extraordinary contributions made by teachers during this time of need, and to being vindicated in court.”

No matter how famous you or your company may be, and how good your intentions are, this lawsuit is a perfect example of how any contest or giveaway can go sideways if the language is not clear.  Any inconsistency in your promotional materials can cause confusion and experienced promotions legal counsel can eliminate this problem. Our team counsels clients on promotions from the conceptual stage to prize fulfillment to make your promotion problem free and successful.

Attorney Carrie Ward has advised clients on hundreds of promotions during her career on local and national levels.  Contact us today if you need help with your company’s contest or prize offering.