Direct Marketing Commission - Enforcing Higher Industry Standards

Data & Marketing Commission | Enforcing Higher Industry Standards



VACANCY – Board Observer 5th January, 2021

Board Observer

Location: London

Approximately 7-10 days pa.

Closing Date: end February 2021

The Data & Marketing Commission (DMC) is an independent body which oversees and enforces the Data & Marketing Association’s (DMA) Code.  The Code and DMC are there to give effective protection to recipients, users and practitioners of the data driven marketing sector. It aims to ensure companies observe the highest standards of integrity and trade fairly with their customers and with each other. This is achieved by investigating complaints and identifying trends in data driven marketing that might raise issues for consumers and the sector.

As the DMC’s remit is changing, so too is the Data and Marketing landscape. Technology and technological advances are, if anything, speeding up; the collection and use of personal data has never been more important to get right and the regulations and best practice guidelines that marketers must follow is increasingly complex.

It is against this backdrop that the DMC wants to ensure that it not only keeps pace with change but further that we facilitate the development of potential Commissioners of the future. 

The DMC is looking for a Board Observer to contribute thoughtful input at DMC Board meetings and allocate time to reviewing and providing considered feedback on DMC materials including commenting on any emerging issues. This role would not entail any voting rights or decision-making function.  There would be around five Board meetings per year alongside any ad hoc pre-arranged meetings.

The candidate should be on a career trajectory which may be relevant to this role and have around 3-5 years experience in a junior management role. Relevant experience may include marketing, data protection and privacy, regulatory work, legal work.  It would be helpful if the candidate has some understanding of regulatory principles, process and practice or law.

This role is for 18 months and is unpaid.  Reasonable travel expenses will be reimbursed.

A full Job Description is available on request.

Applications to

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DMC Annual Report 2019-20 4th January, 2021

Issues around data management and privacy are the biggest concerns in 2019/20, according to the Data and Marketing Commission’s (DMC) latest Annual Report. In the year ranging from July 2019 to June 2020, the DMC reported a marked reduction in complaints against businesses in the data and marketing sector – from over 130 in 2018/19 to just 63 in the last year.

The DMC investigated 23 complaints involving members of the Data and Marketing Association (DMA), 15 of which were consumer complaints and 8 were about B2B issues. The majority of these issues relate to data, privacy and quality (62.5%), with contractual (25%) and customer service (12.5%) problems making up the remainder.

The remaining 40 objections involved organisations that are not members of the DMA and so were referred by the DMC to other statutory or self-regulatory bodies. However, in some cases, particularly where they involved consumers unable to unsubscribe from unwanted communications, the DMC did reach out to the business to provide a reminder of its legal commitments and request that it unsubscribe the individual.

“Understanding how customers think and feel, and what drives their behaviours, is key to customer management and to maximising loyalty. Underlying all the complaints that we see is the standard and quality of an organisation’s customer service,” said Amerdeep Somal, Chief Commissioner of the DMC. “How does a business capture the right information to get to the heart of what matters to a customer, then act on this information to improve customer experience? This will be more important than ever during these challenging times, the pandemic and post Brexit.”

Over the past year, the DMC Board decided it was necessary to conduct one formal investigation into a business. The case involved complaints from two businesses that paid for a service they felt had not been adequately delivered. The DMC Commissioners did not think that the DMA Member had complied with any of the DMA Code’s key principles. Following further failures to engage with the clients or the investigation, the DMC recommended considering the removal of the company from membership, a sanction that the DMA Board approved and imposed.

Somal continues: “The impact the pandemic has had on our society cannot be underestimated and we all have a crucial part to play in weathering the storm. More important still is the change that is required within the industry itself to ensure it retains, and in some cases regains customer support. That means keeping front of mind the lessons of the lockdown that the success of the industry is founded on customer support, which should never be abused or taken for granted.”

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Tribute to Matti Alderson 28th October, 2020

On 16 September 2020, we said goodbye to Matti Alderson, former Chair of the Direct Marketing Authority (before she launched the Direct Marketing Commission) and former Director General of the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), but we have not lost her legacy, described as “an unrelenting focus on making sure that all UK ads are legal, decent, honest, and truthful.”

A passionate advocate of self-regulation, Matti was a committed leader of the UK ad watchdog, which has credited her as a “driving force” in raising its profile. In 1974, Matti joined the ASA as a case officer and became Director General in 1990, spending ten years in the role, in which she particularly focussed on regulating tobacco advertising.

During her tenure, Matti also helped co-found the European Advertising Standards Alliance (EASA), the organisation that coordinates advertising work of self-regulatory bodies across Europe. She became Vice Chair in 1997, the same year Matti joined other industry figures at the European Parliament to give a powerful presentation on the portrayal of women in advertising.

When Matti left the ASA in 2000, its annual report praised her contributions.

She went on to become Managing Director of FireHorses, which providedadvice on regulatory policy and strategy to clients in the public and private sectors, and lead the Direct Marketing Authority (now the Direct Marketing Commission). She expanded the DMC’s role and influence, developed the responsibilities of its directorate, and strengthened relationships with the industry and consumers.

Charles Ping, former DMA Chairman and currently Industry Commissioner on the DMC, said:

“I was lucky enough to work with Matti as DMA Chair when she started her tenure at the DMC.

Matti arrived at the Direct Marketing Commission with a fully rounded understanding of how a regulator works, and what makes the difference between a regulatory environment that supports good business and one that doesn’t. Her view was robust, questioning and always centred in a fair view of how regulation should work.

From her time at the ASA, she instinctively understood that clarity and consistency were key, as well as the ability to clearly articulate the logic behind decisions. It was a challenge within a regulator who had a remit to regulate the code of a body, not an all-encompassing industry wide endeavour, and this made for an interesting journey over the years.

Matti’s commitment to the DMC was clear and she will be remembered by me, and those with whom she worked, as a professional committed to improving the standards of industry through better regulation.”

The obituary from The Times stated that Martha (Matti) Hallyburton Connolly was born on 20 December 1951 in Alexandria, West Dunbartonshire, the daughter of Edward, a captain in the Merchant Navy, and Helen, a nurse. She lived in London with her husband Alan Alderson, IT Director for the Bauer Media Group.

“The couple did not have children, but welcomed young people into their home every year from the former Soviet regions affected by the Chernobyl disaster. They never formally adopted but supported one Belarusian boy from the age of 11 through school and university. He later changed his name to Alex Alderson and called the couple mum and dad.”

Matti died peacefully of undisclosed causes at the age of 68.

The DMA and DMC expresses their deepest condolences to Matti’s family, and the many colleagues and friends she left behind within the ad industry and beyond.

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Data & Marketing Commission announce new Chief Commissioner 7th May, 2020

Amerdeep Somal confirmed as new Chief Commissioner of the Data & Marketing Commission

07 May 2020 – Amerdeep Somal has been named as the new Chief Commissioner of the Data & Marketing Commission (DMC) – the industry body that oversees and enforces the DMA Code.

Led by the Chief Commissioner, the DMC investigates and adjudicates on reported breaches of the DMA Code by members of the Data & Marketing Association (DMA). The team of commissioners work to ensure responsible marketing and ethical marketing practices are maintained.

“I am honoured to be appointed as the new Chief Commissioner. Over the past 25 years, I have remained committed to serving organisations where independence, public interest and trust are placed front and centre of all practices,” said Amerdeep Somal, Chief Commissioner of the DMC. “Responsible marketing, transparency and ethics are key drivers for building consumer trust in the data and marketing industry – the DMC will continue to promote and enforce these values across the DMA’s membership. I am privileged to lead the DMC into the next stage of its evolution.”

Somal brings 25 years’ senior executive and non-executive experience to the position, previously operating within a series of high-profile stakeholder roles across a variety of sectors.

Previous roles include founding Commissioner and Board Member at the Independent Police Complaints Commission. She is presently Independent Assessor of the Financial Ombudsman Service, She will also continue to hold her positions as a Judge at the Ministry of Justice UK, Council Member of the General Medical Council and Board Trustee at Refuge.

Somal’s appointment comes as George Kidd comes to the end of his term, after 12 years with the DMC – first as an independent member of the DMC Board and then selected as Chief Commissioner in 2010.

“I’d like to personally thank George for his leadership, expertise and commitment to the DMC throughout his long tenure. He has been a truly remarkable ambassador to our industry,” added Stephen Maher, Chair of the Data & Marketing Association Board. “I am also delighted to welcome Amerdeep as the new Chief Commissioner. Her wealth of experience and invaluable knowledge of regulatory and judiciary practices will help drive the DMC forward into a new era.”

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DMC supports ASA as advisory panel 30th May, 2019

George Kidd, Chief Commissioner:

We are pleased to confirm the DMC will be supporting the ASA in relation to complaints relating to data use and particularly any issues around the legitimate interest grounds that can be referenced under GDPR.  The DMC has years of experience in dealing with issues of data supply chains and the consents or other grounds that will give them the possibility of consulting the DMC as an advisory panel.  This strengthens the self-regulatory arrangements that complement the ICO by helping address consumer concerns quickly and ensure high compliance.

(Information on the partnership under Organisations with Whom We Work in Partnership)

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