Yesterday (and in some instances today, after the show aired) a significant number of AT&T subscribers received text messages promoting American Idol without opting in for the message. How did this happen? Well the only way it could happen – the one entity with access to the subscribers spammed us.
The SMS read: AT&T Free Msg: Get ready for American Idol! AI 8 starts this Tues (1/13) at 8pm on FOX. Check out AT&T’s official AI web site from your PC – http://www.att.com/idol for the latest info on our $1MM sweepstakes, test your AI IQ by playing the trivia game, and much more. Reply stop to end mktg msgs. (Resounding sound of millions of pissed off people texting STOP follows).
How much backlash and how quickly? Well here we are less than 24 hours later…
From the NY Times article:
“Mark Siegel, a spokesman for AT&T Wireless, said the message was meant as a friendly reminder. “We want people to watch the show and participate,” Mr. Siegel said. He added, “It makes perfect sense to use texting to tell people about a show built on texting.”
“Mr. Siegel said the message went to subscribers who had voted for “Idol” singers in the past, and other “heavy texters.” He said the message could not be classified as spam because it was free and because it allowed people to decline future missives.
“It’s clearly marked in the message what you need to do if you don’t want to participate,” he said. “It couldn’t be more open and transparent.”
Really? It couldn’t be more transparent? How about not spamming your customers just because you are the only one with access to them and allowing them to opt-in as is required for all other messages?
Although I expect the backlash to continue (the carriers are the gateway to our mobile consumers and have also been seen as one of the hindrances of scale in the past, although not so much anymore), I also expect a healthy amount of conversation about the growth of mobile marketing. The silver lining, maybe.