A Text Arrives. Oh, It's Just an 'Idol' Ad. [Telecom]

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A Text Arrives. Oh, It's Just an 'Idol' Ad.

The New York Times
January 14, 2009

Some AT&T Wireless customers have voted an emphatic no on a promotion
for "American Idol" that popped up on their phones this week.

AT&T, a sponsor of the show, said it sent text messages to a
"significant number" of its 75 million customers, urging them to tune
in to the season premiere on Tuesday night.

But some recipients thought the message was a breach of cellphone
etiquette, and gave it the kind of reaction that the "Idol" judge
Simon Cowell might give an off-key crooner.

The online service Twitter had a steady stream of complaints. "AT&T
just sent me a text message advertisement about 'American Idol.'
Evil," a Twitter user named Joe Brockmeier wrote on Tuesday. "The
economic downturn definitely means a spam upswing."

Another user named Nick Dawson wrote: "Seriously AT&T? Did you just
text me twice during a meeting to tell me about 'American Idol?' Very

Mark Siegel, a spokesman for AT&T Wireless, said the message was
meant as a friendly reminder. "We want people to watch the show and
participate," Mr. Siegel said. He added, "It makes perfect sense to
use texting to tell people about a show built on texting."

Because AT&T is a sponsor of "American Idol," only its customers can
use their cellphones to vote for their favorite singers via text
message - so viewer participation means more revenue for AT&T.

In the advertisement, AT&T told recipients to "Get ready for American
Idol" and pointed them to a company Web site promoting an
"Idol"-related sweepstakes. It noted that recipients were not charged
for the message, and that they could opt out of future advertisements
by responding with the word "stop."

Mr. Siegel said the message went to subscribers who had voted for
"Idol" singers in the past, and other "heavy texters." He said the
message could not be classified as spam because it was free and
because it allowed people to decline future missives.



***** Moderator's Note *****

Yes, AT&T, it _WAS_ spam.

Unsolicited and commercial = spam. "Opt out" is _NOT_ a defense.

Bill Horne
Temporary Moderator

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