Chris Moerdyk

How to stop amateur advertisers irritating you

2012-08-06 08:03

Chris Moerdyk

Advertising types are largely a pretty professional bunch of people. However, by the very nature of their trade they sometimes sail perilously close to the wind of deception by delivering their big ideas through murky smoke and misted mirrors.

But, the real danger to the ad industry is the amateurs.

They are about as damaging to the profession as the Royal College of Surgeons allowing dentists to do spare time heart bypass ops in their kitchens.

These are the cretins who pepper our e-mail inboxes with spam; phone us up with offers of dodgy timeshare deals and hospital plans just as we’re sitting down to dinner. They litter our front yards with pieces of paper and set our cellphones off at three in the morning with SMS offers they claim we won’t be able to resist but which I am able to do with aplomb, alacrity and curses loud enough to wake the neighbours and give my dog a really nasty turn.

In all likelihood they genuinely believe we embrace these intrusions with wide-eyed wonder and lifestyle enhancing anticipation.

Most of us just curse and kick but rarely about doing anything about it. Perhaps we should.

For example I remember years ago a fellow called Charles Gilbert who was so fed up with junk mail he started suing companies right left and centre.

He put up a sign on his post box at home warning companies of a R250 fine per document or unwanted mail.

At one stage he had 100 summonses delivered by the courts.

I have no idea what the outcome was but I thought it was a darn good idea.

I suppose it might well have fallen flat when it was found that the justice system was so slow and cumbersome, not to mention time consuming, that just suing people became a more than full time occupation.

Since then things have changed. We have an opt-out system and the Consumer Protection Act. Although I must say these amateur advertising pests don’t seem to give a hoot about trivial things like opt-outs and the CPA.

As someone who is constantly receiving text ads and e-mail spam, I have been wracking my brains about how best to hit back. I’m advised not to because all these people want is some sort of indication that you exist and that your e-mail address or cellphone number is active.

There has surely got to be a way of nailing these idiots ads well as all those crooks who keep telling us we have won a lottery or that we can earn millions of dollars just by helping them out.

I am at a loss I must say, but perhaps the clever and inventive readers of this column might have some great ideas to share?

Personally, I think the ad industry in South Africa should offer some big prizes for the best ideas on how to hit back at the spammers.

- Follow Chris on Twitter.

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