American Idol Texts Called Spam by Twitterers


amidol1.jpgADOTAS — As advertisers try to figure out how to use social networking tools, there is bound to be miscalculations. But with mobile marketing already being scrutinized, you would think there would have been a better way to reach out to American Idol fans than this.

ATT, an Idol sponsor, sent out text messages to a “significant number” of its 75 million customers urging them to tune in to the season premiere last night. The text message said, “AT&T Free Msg: Get ready for American Idol! AI 8 starts this Tues (1/13) at 8 pm on FOX. Check out AT & T’s official AI web site from your PC.” But as this Twitter user said, ” AT&T American Idol SMS Spam. WTF, AT&T?”  

Mark Siegel, a spokesman for AT&T Wireless, told the Times that “the message went to subscribers who had voted for “Idol” singers in the past, and other “heavy texters.” He said the message could not be classified as spam because it was free and because it allowed people to decline future missives.”

If subscribers opted in somehow when they voted on previous Idol contests, fair enough. But I don’t watch the show, and I’m a “heavy texter.” If they did that to me, I would be highly annoyed.

Update: Someone also reminded me of this.  The more I talk to people who understand this, the more I think that this was a poor idea.

— Express your opinion, comment below.


  1. I received the text and not only was I NOT annoyed – I was glad to get it. Without it, I wouldn’t have realized the premiere was on last night, and so I would have missed it. Plus, when that text came in, I was with friends so it got us talking about what we thought of last season, what the new judge would be like, etc. It was a smart move for AT&T / American Idol.

  2. When will companies and marketers realize that no matter what legal BS they hide behind, if the receiver of calls, text messages or emails call it spam, it IS spam. Tide of public opinion can and will turn against them.

  3. Highly annoyed? Perhaps I am naively tolerant, but if my wireless provider sends me a single free message that enables me to opt out of future messages for the same product I really don’t think I could complain.

    It is certainly not off base by any means for them to contact previous voters, and while it is far less precise “heavy texters” is not exactly a stretch audience for them, on their own network.

    The greater the degree of relevancy the better the outcome, but one thing I have learned as a near certainty in marketing, your campaign will piss someone off, no matter how precise you think it is.

  4. Oh come on. Spam? I get text messages from Sprint all the time. I hate them, they’re stupid, but it’s the equivalent of having my cable company send me junk in my cable bill. I ignore them.

    Anyone who gets upset by a text message like this needs to chill out a bit. Just like those email messages we get – just like the AT&T message – that we don’t want so we hit “delete”…that’s what to do with this.

    Welcome to the world of digital advertising.

  5. Unless you specifically opt in, it’s spam — whether you’re annoyed or not. Just because you call a certain number or send text messages (who knows what AT&T defines as a “heavy texter”) doesn’t give AT&T the right to sell your mobile number to Fox or anyone else.

  6. it is spam, no matter how you look at it. if they hide behind the mantra of “it’s a free text,” it’s like telemarketers saying it’s free for us to pick up the phone at home, or let the machine pick it up. no cost to us, right?

    i was EXTREMELY p*ssed off when i got a text message from a retail store that sent me a coupon promotion via text message, which i never signed up for, and couldn’t reply to to remove. when i tried, i got a second text msg saying, text STOP to xxxxxx to stop receiving these messages. WTF. seriously.

    these companies are setting a precedent and they need to be stopped asap. in this case, just because AT&T is a provider, it doesn’t mean they can send out promotional text messages on behalf of paid partners. annoyed? you bet your @ss i was beyond. it’s not an issue of chilling out, it’s a matter of receiving unsolicited promotions to my private cell phone number. in principle it is spam if i did not opt into it. my cell phone number, IMO, is more private than my email address…


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here