Quick Thoughts on ATT’s Idol Gaffe

I won’t retell the entire story, but to summarize, AT&T sent an unsolicited SMS message to their users reminding them to watch Idol.

When I first read about this I cringed. I had flashbacks to my Simplewire days when John Lauer and I got into a heated debate as to how we shake the world up regarding SMS. At the time usage was very low and awareness wasn’t high. We had access to the global number portability database and http posting capabilities to send as many messages through the U.S. carriers as they could handle. Our message was going to be simple: hello world!

I obviously understood the ramifications of doing something this brash. First of all, we would’ve been arrested. Secondly, we would’ve probably encountered class action law suits galore. Thankfully we never hit the red button (though sometimes I wish we had) and sent those millions of messages.

So when I saw AT&T pull that stunt last week, I lost my cool. By spamming their subscribers with millions of Idol messages, they’re basically beckoning spammers to bulk message the United States. Additionally it’s hypocritical. Their TOS for mobile campaigns is straightforward – SMS can only be sent to handraisers who opt into campaigns…

They should not be able to indemnify themselves from the very rules they created. Incredibly discouraging and another slap in the face of mobile marketing.

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