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Kim Dushinski

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Near Brilliant Campaign turns into Mobile Spam


In what could have been a brilliant marketing campaign, Heartland Jiffy Lube found out the hard way that mobile marketing must be integrated with other marketing methods in order to be successful.

As noted by Derek Johnson of Tatango, “TextMarks and their co-defendant, Heartland Automotive Services, the largest Jiffy Lube franchisee in America, have reached a proposed settlement with consumers for the text message spam they sent to mobile phones during April of 2011. The proposed settlement of $47M is to my knowledge the largest in the history of text message spam lawsuits.”

You can see what happened by reading this excerpt of the settlement document, which you can read in full here.

So, Heartland Jiffy Lube had a great idea to get former customers back into their shops for service. They offered these former customers a substantial discount for doing so and for joining their Eclub. This is actually a brilliant idea. Where it all went wrong is that they used mobile marketing as the marketing tool for the campaign.

By sending out an unwanted text message as the initial offer for the discount and the invitation to join the Eclub, they violated actual laws (see the full settlement) and the first of the 10 Commandments of Mobile Marketing: Thou shall not send mobile spam.

Had they sent out a direct mail postcard to these former customers with the substantial discount and the Eclub opt-in information, this could have been a brilliant marketing campaign. The campaign was a great idea. The way they went about getting opt-ins is what failed.

Heartland Jiffy Lube marketers should have been able to see this was a flawed idea by simply asking themselves if they would like to receive an unwanted text message on their phone.

Their text message company, TextMarks, should never have allowed a list of mobile phone numbers to be uploaded into their system. This is a dangerous practice and should not be allowed by any text message company as there is too much room for error…and lawsuits.

What a Load of BS, this is NOT Mobile Spam


If you know me at all you know how firm my stance is against mobile spam. I have been known to tell students in my courses and attendees at my speaking events, “Do not send mobile spam. If you do and I find out I will come kick you in the shins.” Yes, I have said those exact words and I mean them.

I have had heated, but friendly, dialogues with colleagues about how adamant I am that even being able to upload a list of cell phones which have (supposedly) been properly opted-in at another company is wrong. It is that “supposedly” part that gets me. What if they aren’t and consumers are being placed on a text message list without permission? That would be so wrong and it would be mobile spam in its purest form.

It is flat out safe to say that I am a huge opponent to any form of mobile spam.

Today’s article in Mobile Marketer reporting about a class action lawsuit against Twitter for violating SMS regulations has me fuming for an entirely different reason.

Two gentlemen, who I am assuming are the type of people who would sue a coffee place for serving too hot coffee or a knife company for selling sharp knives upon which they cut themselves due to their own negligence, have filed a class action lawsuit against Twitter.

The point of their complaint is the single message that Twitter sends when someone has successfully opted out of receiving SMS. The message simply confirms that the person has opted out and will receive no further messages from the Twitter account they had been following. Furthermore it gives information on how to opt out of all remaining SMS messages sent through Twitter.

In reality this confirmation message is helpful to the person who has opted out because now they know they will stop receiving messages from the individual account and if they want to take it a step further and unsubscribe from Twitter SMS all together they now know how. And can do it easily at that exact moment.

In this scenario Twitter did not send any message without permission. Twitter automatically and immediately opted people out of SMS messages upon request and even goes a step further to tell people how to opt-out all together.


Here’s why this bothers me so much. We have bigger issues to fight. Real mobile spam. The kind that is truly, horrible and wrong. Like the $9.99 my husband was charged for My Mobile Love Alerts. He did nothing but reply STOP to a message that came into him out of the blue. (And yes, I know it came in out of the blue because I happened to be sitting right next to him when it did.)

By the time we noticed the $9.99 was billed to his account Sprint had already paid the slimy excuse of a company (My Mobile Love, Short Code 34095, Phone 877-382-4750, Powered by Open Market) that did this and refused to take it off his bill.

Now, THAT is mobile spam. It is wrong and it must be stopped.

If we, thanks to the plaintiffs in this frivolous lawsuit, spend our energy fighting off opt-out confirmation messages sent to consumers who granted permission in the first place we are missing out on fighting the true spammers – like My Mobile Love, which should have been shut down by the carriers and Open Market long ago.

Hello, Open Market…reading this? Or maybe the opportunistic plaintiffs rallying against Twitter will take up this real case of mobile spam.