The Hired Hand – Not just another blah-blah-blog

May 29, 2014

February 11, 2014

My predictions eerily came true

Filed under: Data,Direct mail — Darcy Grabenstein @ 10:54 pm
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Bank of America logo

by Darcy Grabenstein

In my recent post about Office Max sending a direct-mail piece addressed to “Daughter Killed in Car Crash or Current Business,” I posed similar possible scenarios. I pondered the ramifications of a marketing piece addressed to “Overweight mother of three” or a rehab clinic sending an email with the subject line “Fallen off the wagon again?”

Well, my predictions became reality when Bank of America sent a credit card offer addressed to “Lisa Is a Slut McIntire.” The insult didn’t end there; the personalization also was repeated inside the mailer itself.

I can’t help but chuckle. This incident reminds me of the heyday of “Saturday Night Live,” when Dan Aykroyd and Jane Curtin traded barbs during the Point/Counterpoint skits. His responses to her began with “Jane, you ignorant slut.”

Luckily for Bank of America, McIntyre was somewhat amused as well. Not worried that her reputation would be tarnished, McIntyre promptly posted images of it on Twitter. The bank responded with an apologetic Tweet, and a staff member followed up with a phone call.

The data dilemma apparently is linked to the Golden Key International Honour Society, which was doing a joint promotion with the bank. In any case, it’s Bank of America and the society, not McIntyre, who should be worried about reputation.

I said it before and I’ll say it again: Companies need to do due diligence when it comes to data.

January 24, 2014

The downfall of data

Filed under: Advertising,Direct mail,Public Relations,Social Media — Darcy Grabenstein @ 3:44 am
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OfficeMax

by Darcy Grabenstein

Office Max has taken targeted marketing a bit too far.

The company is making headlines after one of its customers received a direct-mail piece addressed to “Daughter Killed in Car Crash or Current Business.” Unfortunately, the data was spot-on.

The recipient, Mike Seay, had lost his daughter in a car accident a year earlier.

So how did Office Max acquire this information and, more importantly, how did it end up on an envelope addressed to Mr. Seay?

Office Max is pointing fingers at a third-party data provider.

No matter how the error occurred or who’s responsible, the incident raises questions about the data industry as a whole. Data sellers – and buyers – need to be held more accountable for the use of customer information, particularly sensitive information.

Privacy has long been a concern among consumers, especially in terms of online marketing. This, however, was a traditional direct-mail promotion.

The point is, it’s not the channel that’s the culprit. It’s the methods of capturing – and using – data that need to be revisited.

Can you imagine a mailer promoting a weight-loss product being addressed to “Overweight mother of three”? Or a rehab clinic sending an email with the subject line “Fallen off the wagon again?”

Office Max (after a manager initially doubted the error when Seay called to report it) followed up with an apology. It issued a formal statement, and a company executive called the Seay family to offer a personal apology.

But an apology is not enough. Office Max needs to take the lead and ensure that this type of incident won’t occur again.

What turned out to be a nightmare for the Seay family doesn’t have to be a PR nightmare for Office Max. It simply needs to revamp its data collection procedures, and encourage other marketers to do so as well.

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