Family restaurant franchisor McDonald’s Australia will need to steer clear of email if it wants to use social recommendations to boost its marketing campaigns.
The restaurant’s Australian operation’s ‘send to friends’ feature on a Happy Meal website breached Australia’s Spam Act, the Australian Media and Communications Authority (ACMA) decided this week.
The breach stemmed from McDonald’s failure to gain the consent of recipients prior to a message being sent, ruling out a practice on email that is common to social networks.
ACMA Chairman Chris Chapman warned businesses to be cautious about ‘friend get friend’ marketing.“When sending your marketing messages, you must make sure that there is consent from the actual person who is going to receive your message. You can’t just assume consent has been given.”
An ACMA investigation found that electronic messages with a link sent by McDonald’s breached the Spam Act and further, did not contain an unsubscribe function.
The ACMA said the style of marketing was “one of the most common types of complaint” it deals with. Consumers often wonder how a particular business acquired their personal email address, it said.
“Asking customers to hand over their friends’ email addresses to you doesn’t mean that you then have consent to send marketing messages to those addresses,” the ACMA warns on a website set up specifically to deal with this complaint.
“[Y]ou can’t infer consent to send your messages, because inferred consent relies on the relationship between you and the recipient of your message—not the recipient and their ‘friend’.”