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European direct marketers launch the most disgraceful video campaign in history

from http://www.thepra.com.au/jobs/

 By Simon Davies

—- A response from FEDMA appears below this article —

There are moments when parody turns to travesty and there are moments when legal interpretation becomes a constructed lie. The Federation of European Direct and Interactive Marketing (FEDMA) has just achieved both conditions.

FEDMA is one of the two dominant European direct marketing associations. One of its core ambitions is to explain why the will of the elected parliament to enshrine data protection rights is wrong-footed. Or, put another way, why strong data protection is bad for the advertising business.

Of course FEDMA would never actually say publicly that it believes data protection stands in the way of corporate profits. Nor would it admit that it believes people should sacrifice their fundamental privacy rights to support the direct marketing juggernaut. Instead, FEDMA’s most recent strategy is to tell consumers why data protection is bad for consumers.

One might have thought that the existence of Evil Edgar is the precise reason why there should be strong protection of personal data.

To do this, FEDMA and its partners chose to speak to the Lowest Common Denominator. In a series of hilariously patronising, cringeworthy animations, a modern day “Aladdin” summons up a sort of disembodied data genie in order to make a variety of everyday requests for information. Of course the legally misguided genie responds with a string of refusals based on FEDMA’s blundering interpretation of the upcoming data protection Regulation. And he does so to the tune of 70’s porn music.

The first video tells us why Aladdin can’t buy flowers for his girlfriend without her explicit consent. Apparently he knows that she knows that he knows that roses are her favourite flowers, and he wants to make the delivery a surprise, even though it obviously isn’t a surprise because it’s her birthday, or something.

Anyway, apparently the real reason for wanting to do all this is so Aladdin can get the jump on his rival, Evil Edgar, before he sends her flowers. Creepy, eh. One might have thought that the existence of Evil Edgar is the precise reason why there should be strong protection of personal data. But FEDMA certainly isn’t allowing fact and logic to get in the way of a bad movie.

The second, and more pernicious video, tells us why a couple of superheroes are unable to find some slave trader because there are restrictions on profiling and Big Data. Well, they sort of know that Evil Edgar is the slave trader but they need proof. He’s stripped all these poor people of their identities, so the film explains why a “greater good” is achieved by stripping everyone of their privacy.

In the end, the evil data protection regulation is quashed and the two superheroes fly away to vanquish Edgar, to the sound of familiar porn music.

I won’t drone on. I know you desperately want to see this low ebb in corporate ethics, just as much as you want to view a creative low in animation. So here it is. And if you want more, here’s another.

Enjoy! These are rare moments when you get to imagine a world without privacy.

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The Secretary General of FEDMA, Sébastien Houzé, sent a long response to the Privacy Surgeon shortly after the publication of the above article.

Mr Houzé is clearly miffed by the blog, which he feels is unfair and a little shallow. Not only that, but he points out that the piece fails to provide important background and context.

Given that the article is satirical in nature, I agree with some of his points. It wasn’t intended to be an academic analysis. It is merely a sharp and intentionally fierce attack on a grossly misleading video series. Hence the original title, which had something to do with using bad 70’s porn music to spread a message of hate. I did amend that title soon after publication though, partly because ‘hate’ is a strong word – even for satire – and partly because I don’t wish to impugn 70’s porn music, some of which – I am told – has become cool again.

Turning to the substance of Mr Houzé’s response, here is a summary of the points he would like to have heard – none of which detract from the thrust of the above article.

 

  • “The videos are one part of a broader campaign: Data Now. Videos are just one part of it. Look at data-now.eu to have the big picture. It’s a bit too easy to say the puzzle is green because you just found a green piece.

 

  • “As it’s mentioned clearly on the site, and we’ve been quite explicit about it, Data Now is a campaign from the Data Industry Platform, an initiative from a European group of companies and associations from different industries and sectors having one common denominator: the positive use of data. FEDMA is part of it, but is not the only actor behind the curtain. You’ve been a bit unclear about this. Please check on http://data-now.eu/about

 

  • “We tried to illustrate complicated cases in a simple way, using animated video.

 

  • “As secretary general of FEDMA and as a marketer, I don’t think we don’t care about privacy. We do care. The rules are simple: know your customer, listen to him and respect him. Customer trust is the ultimate goal of our industry. It’s the funding of our work at
    Don’t you know we consult and inform the consumer associations about what we do?

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