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Feb 23, 2001

Protecting Your Brand Name Against Outside Spammers May Be Impossible

SUMMARY: No summary available.
Wednesday night February 7th, millions of people across America received an unsolicited email message with the subject line, "Motorola Pager Deal Wont Last!" We contacted Josephine Posti, PR Manager for Motorola's Personal Communications Sector, to see how the Company felt about their brand name being used by a spammer. She couldn't share any legal details because the lawyers are investigating it right now; but did tell us, "I got the same email that you got, as well as hundreds of people in the company. Spammers are usually not smart enough to take our names off a list before they use it! It wasn't too long before people started forwarding it to our attorneys."

These days every famous name brand is increasingly vulnerable to having their reputations damaged by spam -- even those who, like Motorola, are extremely careful to only practice permission-based marketing online.

Unfortunately stopping spammers from abusing your brand is almost impossible. Posti noted in this instance the spammer hadn't even been selling a Motorola product; he simply put the brand name in his subject line for attention and credibility. She says, "One of the biggest problems with these types of spammers is that they are usually small companies that may in fact be a shell company. They're not following the law. They don't identify themselves or provide an opt-out. When they're so blatant about not following the rules, they make it difficult for you to know who's behind it."

However brand managers and corporate communicators can take proactive steps to handle the fall-out from spam. MarketingSherpa recommends that every company implement a formal spam management system. You might add a "Report a possible spammer" form to both your company intranet for employee use, and to your brand's Web site for public use. Publicize this form in corporate and brand communications, including email newsletters. Use it to show everyone that you don't support spam, and you do care deeply when something besmirches their email box with your brand name on it. Then forward responses straight to Legal.
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