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Boffer Cleared Mis-Leading Customers Over Spoof Fertility Monitor Offer

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Boffer.co.uk has been cleared by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) of misleading customers after running a spoof freebie offer for a device that would help couples reduce the time it takes to conceive a baby.

The fun promotion by the online retailer - which sells one product a day at a bargain price - claimed the device would provide personalised daily fertility for pregnancy planning.

Boffer launched the joke advertisement encouraging their loyal customers to help them increase their customer base by manufacturing new babies.

When consumers ordered the USB fornication optimiser they were redirected to an online video where they were given a code to obtain free postage on future orders.

The promotion received four complaints claiming that it was misleading because it was not clear that it was not a genuine offer and a further three complaints said the promotion was offensive and insensitive to people who were having difficulty in conceiving a child.

However the ASA Council assessment found that references in the advertisement to kidnapping people and forcing them to buy stuff, cloning being a grey area and the invitation for readers to help Boffer manufacture new customers made it clear that the offer was a spoof.

It also considered that the target audience, who had visited the site before, were likely to be aware of its humour and were therefore unlikely to be misled into believing that Boffer were offering a free fertility monitor.

Although acknowledging that the advertisement may be considered by some to be in poor taste, the report added that the promotion was appropriately targeted at those who have visited the site before.

IT entrepreneur Shaf Rasul, who invested in the discount site to support the owners' growth objectives, apologised to those who felt misled or offended by the promotion.

He said: "We have always adopted a humorous marketing style where the descriptions openly make fun of the product, Boffer or the consumer.

"And although we accept that the subject matter could be sensitive to a minority of readers, we fully believe that our target audience is technologically aware and would have been unlikely to be misled into thinking the product was genuine."

Boffer sells only one product a day, which is sourced from bankrupt and excess stock, at a bargain price. The offer goes live at midnight and remains on the website till all stock is sold or until 23.59 the following evening.

Products regularly sold on the popular site - which is now the 1500th busiest in the UK and receives 30,000 hits every night - include laptops, iPods, digital cameras and LCD televisions.

Rasul added: "Consumers trends show that people are now avoiding the high street and doing their shopping online in a bid to tackle the effects of the credit crunch.

"Since its launch in September Boffer has captured the imagination of the online consumers through its diverse product range and knock-down bargain prices.

"We offer high-street products at a fraction of the high-street price and people looking for a better deal should make Boffer their number one online shopping site."


Notes to editors

IT and property entrepreneur Shaf Rasul is Scotland's richest Asian, with a personal fortune estimated in excess of £100million.

Edinburgh-based Rasul was last year named the 27th richest Asian in the UK and was also included in the Asia Power 100, a list of the most influential and successful members of the British Asian community.

Rasul established his optical-media distribution, E-Net Computers Limited, in 2000 and it is now the largest storage media distributor in Europe and one of the biggest buyers of optical storage products in the world.

As well as expanding E-Net Computers, Rasul has developed a venture capital investment portfolio, worth in the region of £30million, which focuses on property, asset management and internet technology. Recent capital ventures include internet retailer Boffer.co.uk which sells only one product a day at a bargain price.

Rasul also has an arm dedicated to management buy-ins and buyouts, providing teams with the funding, buying power and exposure to the supply and distribution networks required to expand their business.