The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has issued a formal warning to McDonald’s after the company has been found to violate the Spam Act by sending unsolicited messages to users via the “send to friends” feature present on their Happy Meal site.
McDonald’s broke the law because they were not allowed to send emails to internauts just because their friends “said so.” The recipient must be the one to provide consent in order for the messages to be legitimate.
Furthermore, the messages sent by the restaurant chain to their customers’ friends didn’t contain the “unsubscribe” link as requested by the Spam Act.
“This case should alert businesses that they must think carefully before using ‘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,” said ACMA Chairman Chris Chapman.
McDonald’s has removed the “send to friend” feature from its website and provided assurances regarding its future online marketing activities.
This marketing strategy, dubbed “friend get friend” has been somewhat controversial lately. That’s why ACMA has published a blog post on the impact of such practices on a company’s reputation.