February 07, 2008Brand Name Rewards Spam
As a follow-up to yesterday's airline confirmation spam, I want to make clear that Southwest Airlines had nothing to do with the offer or the spam. Nor did Apple have anything to do with today's installment of the same type of crappage:
Subject: Test and Keep your Apple MacBook Air
I guess Apple couldn't find anyone to test a MacBook Air. Yah!
These "with participation" spams use the good brand name of a company whose products or services consumers like and trust in order to coax recipients to open the message and then act. The brand-name companies don't have a clue that their products are being spammed until after the fact. I've seen spammers wave high-value gift cards (Target and Macy's before last Christmas) and tickets to popular TV shows, such as Oprah (I believe that it's in violation of FCC regulations for TV show tickets to be anything but absolutely free) as lures to grab "participants" (a.k.a. greedy people wanting something for nothing—which turns out to be not for nothing). The brand name always appears in the Subject: line to make sure you see it in your inbox.
Spammers who operate these programs in the open (i.e., they provide CAN-SPAM compliant identities and addresses) include disclaimers that apparently keep the brands' and FTC's lawyers at a sufficiently safe distance. The outfit trumpeting Southwest Airlines' brand yesterday included a notice in the email message that it "is not affiliated with, sponsored by or endorsed by any of the listed products or retailers." This statement is in the grayed-out fine print that no one (except me) reads.
Companies that send these spams call their activities "rewards programs." Reward, as in a treat they toss to a dog for rolling over. As in the $20 they leave on the nightstand at an hourly-rate motel.Posted on February 07, 2008 at 08:52 AM