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Direct Marketing Commission - Enforcing Higher Industry Standards

Aspect Web Media – complaint about direct marketing

November 2015

This case looked at the concerns raised by a single complainant who had been in receipt of a number of unwanted emails where the sender email addresses had seemingly been created to give the impression the messages were coming from well-known legitimate businesses and the email content was unrelated to those businesses. The complainant had followed a link which led him to believe that AWM were involved. Over the course of the investigation, it became clear that some of those emails had been for marketing campaigns run by AWM.  AWM was using affiliates and sub-affiliates who each had databases of individuals which had allegedly consented to e-mail marketing for certain goods and services.

The complaint led to an investigation where the DMC looked at AWM’s business model and its relationship with its affiliates and sub-affiliates in general and did not restrict itself to only examining the single complaint received.

The adjudication addressed the case with particular reference to Code rule 4.3 which states that “members must accept that in the context of this Code they are normally responsible for any action (including the content of commercial communications) taken on their behalf by their staff, sales agents, agencies, one-to-one marketing suppliers and others.

The DMC recognised that AWM operated largely on the basis of trust in affiliates and in their trust in sub-affiliates and on feed-back from their campaign-clients or direct affiliates if something goes wrong. The DMC also noted however that AWM had made or were in the process of making some changes to their processes to ensure tighter controls and told the DMC that they were open to other reforms to assure compliance.

The DMC has made it clear to the DMA that it sees the need to apply the related provision that members must take responsibility for the data that is traded via the actions of their suppliers and sub-contractors. This message is now of key importance to the DMA and the application of Code rules across its compliance process.

We upheld a breach of rule 4.3 above and formally reminded AWM of its responsibilities under this part of the DMA Code.