Uproar over ads against giving out personal data

Direct marketing agencies and data list companies are up in arms over a campaign by the Information Commissioner’s Officer (ICO) warning consumers to be wary of giving out personal information.

The campaign, which is appearing on the London Underground, beer mats and taxi receipts, was created by BDH/TBWA. It carried the strapline: “Think before you give away personal details unnecessarily. You never know where they’ll end up.”

The majority of complaints concern two 60-second radio ads that have been blasted as “alarmist” and “detrimental” by senior industry figures.

The ads portray a researcher taking personal information from a member of the public, who becomes upset when told the information will be passed on to a third party.

The Direct Marketing Association and the ICO have both confirmed they have received numerous calls protesting about the radio ads.

A spokesman for Experian, one of the largest data list providers in the UK, says: “The ad preys on people’s fears rather than allaying any worries they may have about giving information.”

Ian Ramsden, managing director of direct marketing agency Hothouse, says the ads should be pulled immediately.”It builds up and instils a huge fear of giving information. Good business is built on trust and they are saying ‘Don’t trust anybody’. It is a disservice to the entire direct marketing profession,” he says.

The DMA is in discussions with the ICO about the controversial campaign in the hope that a consistent message can be given to consumers.

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