UK supermarket Sainsbury’s has run into trouble over an SMS recruitment campaign. The messages’ recipients felt they were inappropriately sexual, as did the recruitment center the campaign advertised.
Sainsbury’s bought a database of mobile numbers in Stockport, UK from a direct marketing firm. It then sent them the message I wnt u, I need u, I cnt get enuff of u… Sainsbury’s is recruiting at a new store, followed by the number for the local Job Centre. Many of the recipients (and the Job Centre) complained, forcing Sainsbury’s to apologise.
The story demonstrates the pitfalls of SMS advertising. While the majority of mobile subscribers say they are happy to receive targeted SMS messages, it is a more intrusive medium than traditional advertising. The offence caused by offensive – or even just irrelevant – messages is much greater.