Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Bad move by AT&T re: American Idol

This is a new low in advertising: AT&T, a sponsor of American Idol, sent lots of its customers text messages reminding them that American Idol is about to start a new season. The kind of text message you get on your phone and immediately pay attention to because it might be your significant other with some important news. The kind of text message you have to delete yourself. The kind of text message that you can stop, but only if you send a text message with the word "stop."

Wow, is that a stupid advertising campaign. An AT&T spokesman said that "the message was meant as a friendly reminder." Dude, here's a clue: when people are pissed off at you, don't lie to them. You, my cellphone provider, are not my friend. You are my cellphone service provider. We are not friends. We have a mutually beneficial economic relationship, but we are not friends. And we will never be friends.

The same spokesman said that it went to people who had used text messaging to vote on American Idol. Because AT&T is a sponsor, only AT&T customers can vote by text messaging. AT&T obviously wants more people to use text messaging to vote for American Idol, because they make money. And, obviously, the people who have done so before are the most likely to do so again.

But let's suppose someone has used text messaging to vote for American Idol before. What are the odds that that someone is aware that another season of American Idol is coming up? I would say the chances of that would be somewhere between 99% and 100%. Give or take 2 or 3%.

In other words, you're sending messages to people who are already very aware of what you are advertising. Not super-productive.

This same idiot spokesman - I hope this guy collects a nice paycheck for selling his soul AND his dignity - claims that this is not spam. Dude, once again with the lying to people who are pissed at you.

This isn't spam? Um, yes it is:

Richard Cox, the chief information officer for Spamhaus, a nonprofit antispam organization based in Britain, countered: “It’s absolutely spam. It’s an unsolicited text message. People who received it didn’t ask for it. That’s the universal definition of spam.”
That's certainly my definition of spam, and I don't need to use my philosophy degree expertise in defining terms to figure that out.

When I clear out my spam filter every day, there are several messages in it. I can click one button, select them all, and then click another button to delete them. Very fast and simple. It's part of the price I pay for having free email. I'm fine with that. But I really, really, really do not want to have to request that my cellphone service provider - who I am paying for cellphone service - stop sending me spam.
Mr. Cox said that in Europe, AT&T could wind up in court for sending such missives because they would violate the law.
Oh please, somebody make our dreams come true. I will buy a bottle of French champagne if AT&T gets sued for this in Paris. I'll watch a Godard movie and try really hard not to find it pretentious and trite.

The odd thing is that I used to have AT&T for my cellphone service, and I was perfectly happy with it. I have AT&T for my Internet service. I've been considering buying an iPhone, which would require AT&T. The truly odd thing about my Internet service is that the connection to the Internet is fine - I haven't had a single problem with it. But the customer service is terrible. I got a bill the other day that said that I hadn't paid my bill in three months. I knew that was wrong, and pulled out the documentation to prove it. Then I noticed that there were two different account numbers on the bills. One was my real account number, one was an account that was somehow credited to me for reasons utterly inexplicable. AT&T had somehow created an account for me out of thin air, and was accusing me of being delinquent on this fictitious account. I called and canceled immediately. That went fine, but it was still a huge waste of my time.

And here's another irony. On the right side of the screen on the NYTimes Website, right next to the article about AT&T's current idiocy, is an ad. For AT&T.

And conservatives wonder why people don't trust capitalists.

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