July 7, 2023

Foot Locker Accused Of Deceptive “False Urgency” in Lawsuit

Frankie Pike
A display of Foot Locker sneakers is shown on a white wall

Foot Locker is facing a lawsuit alleging misleading “false urgency” practices.

The lawsuit, filed by Teretta Willis, claims that Foot Locker misled consumers and used manipulative tactics to create a sense of urgency. According to the complaint, Foot Locker frequently offers sales with vague and non-specific claims, such as “SALE! 60% OFF!” or “This weekend only: Save an extra 40%!” However, these discounts are alleged to be “not really discounts at all, but attempts to mislead.”

According to The Fashion Law, Willis is seeking monetary damages and for the court to certify her proposed class action.

This accusation reflects a growing concern highlighted in a Federal Trade Commission report about the use of “dark patterns” in the digital marketplace.

The FTC’s report lists the following behaviors as manipulative dark patterns.

  • False Low Stock Message: “Creating pressure to buy immediately by saying inventory is low when it isn’t. Example: ‘Only 1 left in stock—order soon.'”
  • False Activity Messages: “Making false claims about others’ activity on a site or interest in a product. Example: ’24 other people are viewing this listing.'”
  • False Discount Claims: “Creating pressure to buy immediately by offering a fake ‘discounted’ or ‘sale’ price.”
  • False High Demand Message: “Creating pressure to buy immediately by saying demand is high when it isn’t. Example: ’20 other shoppers have this item in their cart.'”

Marketers beware: Though Foot Locker is liable because these messages appeared on their website, if the messages had appeared in ads, the agency that placed them would be liable.

According to the FTC, “Advertising agencies or website designers are responsible for reviewing the information used to substantiate ad claims. They may not simply rely on an advertiser’s assurance that the claims are substantiated.”

THREADS: What We Know

Threads—Meta’s version of Twitter—dropped this week and gained 70 million users in just 24 hours. Here’s the basic rundown:

  • Andy Stone, Meta’s communications director, told Semafor: “No one on the Threads engineering team is a former Twitter employee—that’s just not a thing.”

Other news

  • Here’s what to expect this month in TikTok updates.
  • Check out the debut of the Sphere in Vegas. It’s the world’s largest video screen and seats 18,000.
  • Next Sunday is the deadline to submit speaking proposals for SXSW 2024.

That’s all for this week’s Marketing Roundup. Check back in next Friday for more news. And subscribe to our newsletter below for additional updates.