Businesses resort to desperate emailing as GDPR deadline looms
Martin Belam, thegaurdian.com
As the GDPR deadline approaches, businesses have been resorting to ever more desperate attempts to get users to open their emails.
Some have opted for humour. Restaurant chain Wahaca asked users if they could “taco bout your data and your emails”. Wagamama asked customers not to “say toodles to noodles”.
Other puns include Southwark Playhouse sending out an email headed “GDP-Arghhh!” and the Content Marketing Association sending out one with the subject line “GDPRen’t you glad you’re on our mailing list?”
The rule change has also afforded a chance for creativity among email marketing teams. A message from American rock band Rage Against the Machine was widely shared on social media after the band urged fans to click a button marked “Testify!” in order to continue to receive emails – a nod to the band’s single of the same name. “Here comes the bit from the suits”, they added above the legal disclaimer text.
The Labour party made a joking emotional plea to users that they might “ruin Jeremy Corbyn’s birthday” unless they opted in to continue to receive emails. “The last thing he wants as a gift,” the email said, “is to see our movement lose strength.”
Overall though, many people’s inboxes are beginning to resemble the desperate last throes of a romance, clogged up as company after company sends out GDPR email with plaintive subject lines such as “Please stay with us”, “Let’s stay together” and “Don’t leave”. Comedian Mark Watson took it to the next level, sending out an email headed “Do you love me enough to click?”
And there has been a consumer backlash against some of the more drastic attempts to attract attention. Green Man Gaming, a UK-based online video game retailer sent out emails to users with the subject line: “Your recent Green Man Gaming order number 13371337.”
The email went on to say: “Just kidding, but now that you’re here ... On the 25th May data protection laws are changing and we need you to refresh your preferences.
“I’ve never opted out of receiving emails so fast,” said one user on a gaming forum who had received the email.
The flurry of emails has also inevitably sparked jokes online, with people posting memes captioned with the desperate shouting of: “DO YOU STILL WANT TO GET MY EMAILS AFTER GDPR TAKES EFFECT?”
Some have posted on social media to the effect that GDPR is at last a problem where, if you ignore it, it goes away. In theory, not replying to GDPR consent emails means companies will unsubscribe you from their mailing lists without you having to take any action.
The email frenzy is in part because many businesses believe that when the regulations come into force on 25 May they need to have obtained a new explicit consent to be able to send emails.
Most GDPR emails unnecessary and some illegal, say experts.
Some legal experts have argued that many of these emails are unnecessary, and may even be illegal under existing data protection laws. If you have previously expressly consented to receive emails from a company, that consent would remain valid under the new legal framework. There are also five other justifications for a company processing your personal data emailing you – contract, legal obligation, vital interests, public interest and legitimate interests.
Demand for advice about the GDPR changes caused the Information Commissioner’s Office website to be unavailable for a period of time on Wednesday.
The Troxy, a concert venue in east London, perhaps summed up the chaos and confusion best, sending an email headed with explosion emojis that said: “This database will self-destruct in 3 days!”