I was appalled to hear that a mother recently received a mailing intended to encourage her dead son to drive safely. The cruel irony was that her son had died in a car crash, a critical point missed by the campaign purely due to the use of an out-of-date mailing list. Does it really take such horrific examples of bad data management to raise the profile of accurate, regular data suppression?
As David Benady quite rightly points out (MW February 17), the direct marketing industry has been subject to heavy criticism, and stories like this serve only to anger the already irate consumer. There is no excuse for not carrying out adequate suppression – there is a wealth of products available. Mailing the deceased is simply unacceptable, and causes untold anguish to relatives. From a commercial standpoint, consider the damage caused to the reputation of a brand from this type of poor targeting. Unfortunately, all too often it’s the horrendous mailings that stick in people’s minds.
Surely it’s time that direct marketers were legally obliged to suppress their data correctly for every campaign? With all the sophisticated tools that marketers have at their disposal, badly targeted mailings like this should be a thing of the past. It’s high time that those few marketers who are destroying our industry’s reputation bucked their ideas up. Any repetition of this most recent incident would be simply inexcusable.
Chichester, West Sussex