UK Email Ad Campaign Banned

    May 6, 2009

An email ad campaign promoting the British film "Shifty" has been banned by a UK advertising watchdog for being "irresponsible."

Shifty Movie

Visitors to the films website were invited to "Stitch up a mate" by entering a friends email address. The website said the recipient would not see their email address. The email to the recipient had a fake government return email address and said they were being investigated for being a "habitual narcotics users."

An individual filed a complaint with the Advertising Standard Authority because of receiving the email at their work address and concern it could be a "threat to their employment."

The ASA challenged whether the email campaign breached database rules because recipients had not given consent to receive marketing by email. It also said the email did not make it clear it was marketing material.

Advertiser Metrodome Group, who was behind the email campaign, has apologized for any distress it caused and did not realize the ad breached any codes of practice.

Metrodome has withdrawn the email function from the website and has been told by the ASA to make clear that future ads are marketing material.