The price for being funny in an SMS message
Everyone loves a good joke. Well, maybe not everyone since humour can be very situational. That’s what a company called Parklife Weekender, who run Manchester’s annual festival, discovered last week.
Earlier this year they had sent a marketing text message out to their list promoting “after parties” for the annual festival. The message read:
“Some of the Parklife after parties have already sold out. If your (sic) going, make sure your (sic) home for breakfast! Xxx www.afterlifemcr.com”
By itself the message seems harmless enough. And it is. But instead of using their company name as the “from” name, they changed it so that people would receive a message from “Mum”.
According to a statement by the company, the change “was intended as a fun way of engaging festival-goers”. Unfortunately though, many people took exception to receiving the message. Among them people whose Mums had died. Some of them had lost her in just the few weeks before the message went out.
When people complained to the company, the response wasn’t sympathetic. It wasn’t until later they issued a statement saying they acknowledged the message might not have been appropriate for everyone.
The apology wasn’t enough though, and the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) issued the company a £70,000 fine last week. In a press release, the ICO said “This was a poorly thought out piece of marketing that didn’t appear to even try to follow the rules or consider the impact that their actions would have on the privacy of individuals.”
Anyone that runs a marketing campaign using electronic means needs to abide by the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR). Most of the fines you hear issued have to do with spamming text messages to people who have not opted into receive them. But Parklife specifically violated the regulations by changing the name of the sender to be something other than the company. The result was a deceptive marketing campaign and Parklife was ordered to pay the fine.
Text message marketing is very effective, quick, and works for just about any industry. But this case underlines how important it is to be aware of the regulations regarding the marketing messages you send. The ICO has put together some guidance on helping organisations understand the regulations on its website.
If you’re considering a text message marketing campaign, don’t be put off. Give us a call and we’d be happy to help you understand what you need to know for your particular campaign.
The first thing to remember is that legally, you must give the customer the chance to both opt-in and opt-out of your SMS campaign - but the good news is people are happy to opt-in - 49% of them according to a 2014 survey. So all you need to do is stay compliant and follow some basic guidelines to grow your list.
Companies use contests and giveaways all the time. It turns out that doing them over SMS messaging works really well, and offers some advantages over other channels. Read our blog to see the types of results various companies achieved when using SMS giveaways.
How hard is it to use SMS marketing? If you’ve been told it’s complicated, you heard wrong. Using SMS is simple, though there are a few things you should know. This blog shows you how simple it can be, and provides links to useful resources.
Executed properly, SMS direct marketing is a hugely effective and successful means of building customer loyalty and improving sales. But even genuine and honest marketing companies can suffer huge damage to reputation or even break the law through simply lacking knowledge or not double-checking before releasing campaigns. Read this article to learn more about the definitions of spamming and harassment, current UK law and how to avoid simple but costly mistakes.
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) issued seven monetary penalties against companies this year. We’ve read through them all – so you don’t have to – and discovered two lessons every company should learn about SMS marketing if they want to be successful.
When you start using SMS marketing, one of the first decisions you need to make is whether or not you’ll need to get replies. If you do, then you’ll need to decide between shortcodes and a virtual mobile number (VMN, also called longcode). If you don’t, then that’s alright too.
Four years ago, reputable commentators in The Guardian were wondering if SMS - short message service or text messaging - had peaked in performance after a two-decade exponential rise. Here we look at the evidence which shows that SMS is not only going strong, but continuing to stand out as an essential marketing channel for many businesses.
Yet another company (Quigley and Carter Limited) have been fined by the ICO for not having permission to send SMS messages. In this case, they had outsourced their marketing to a third party who then sent messages on their behalf. So is staying compliant with the regulations regarding SMS messaging so difficult? It doesn’t have to be.