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Marketing Material In Charity Newsletters - Food for Thought or a Spam Sandwich?

on Friday, 20 March 2020.

Is there ever a place for marketing materials in charity newsletters?

Last year, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) issued  fines of £60,000 to an insurance company, Eldon Insurance Limited (trading as Go Skippy Insurance), and £45,000 to the campaign group Leave.EU. This was for breaching the rules against electronic marketing, which prohibit sending unsolicited marketing emails to individuals without specific (ie opt-in) consent.

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The breaches arose following the circulation of political newsletters by Leave.EU which contained direct marketing material for Eldon Insurance.  

Relevant consent had been obtained by Leave.EU  to send out newsletters, but the newsletters also contained direct marketing material promoting Eldon Insurance.  The ICO found that insufficient consent had been obtained in relation to the marketing material.

The fact that the marketing material was included amongst other, non-marketing material within the newsletter was irrelevant. By signing up for a newsletter subscribers had not consented to marketing material.  As Chris Knight, acting for the ICO asserted, “a spam sandwich nevertheless contains spam”.

Eldon Insurance and Leave.EU challenged the decision, but last week their appeals were dismissed. 

Consent is Key

Any Charity that includes third party advertising within its electronic newsletters will need to check their consent provisions to ensure that these cover both receipt of the newsletter and any marketing material contained within newsletter.

For more information, please contact Penny Bygrave in our Charity Law team 020 7665 0867, or complete the form below.

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