I simply ask this: could I walk into a branch of the National Australia Bank and openly promote my business to those in attendance? I’d encourage EVERY Australian blogger who has an account to the National to close it.
From today’s Crikey (not quite reprinted in full, but as it’s subscription only, reprinted enough so you get the core idea):
Last week, the National Australia Bank ?¢‚Ç¨?ìspammed?¢‚Ç¨¬ù the comments sections of private blogs in an attempt to secure free promotion for the launch of its new SMS banking service. NAB is standing behind this decision.
Last Thursday, an anonymous message was posted to the comments section of an article about the recent controversies surrounding Sam Newman on the AFL Player Spectator blog…the message was out of context and irrelevant, promoting an event at Melbourne?¢‚Ç¨‚Ñ¢s Federation Square and a ticket give-away:
“Hi guys, NAB is giving away free tickets to the Collingwood v Carlton game on Saturday afternoon @ the MCG. Hop on down to Fed Square tomorrow?¢‚Ç¨¬¶ this is all to launch the new NAB SMS Banking! Thank you”….
NAB media relations spokesperson Felicity Glennie-Holmes confirmed that the message was indeed from the bank. The idea to spam the comments sections of private blogs was a recommendation of PR agency Cox+Inall, part of the BWM group, and had been undertaken by Cox+Inall with the bank?¢‚Ç¨‚Ñ¢s full knowledge and approval.
Cox+Inall had searched for blogs that included AFL coverage and were ?¢‚Ç¨?ìwell-enough read to attract readers who might be interested in our offer,?¢‚Ç¨¬ù said Ms Glennie-Holmes. No-one at NAB or at Cox+Inall had considered approaching blog owners first for permission before posting their promotional messages, she said.
?¢‚Ç¨?ìBlogs are a public forum?¢‚Ç¨¬ù, said Ms Glennie-Holmes. NAB and Cox+Inall felt this meant commercial interests could feel free to contribute unsolicited and irrelevant commercial material as comments, placing the onus on blog moderators to reject or delete unwanted comments.
?¢‚Ç¨?ìWe identified five or six blogs where we felt we?¢‚Ç¨‚Ñ¢d give it a try,?¢‚Ç¨¬ù explained Ms Glennie-Holmes. ?¢‚Ç¨?ìWe chose blogs where we thought the moderators would review and decide whether or not to carry our message?¢‚Ç¨¬¶it was up to the blogger to decide whether they would leave the comment there or delete it.?¢‚Ç¨¬ù
The fact that the message posted to the blogs was ?¢‚Ç¨?ìvery openly promotional?¢‚Ç¨¬ù and not deceptive also justified the bank?¢‚Ç¨‚Ñ¢s conduct, Ms Glennie-Holmes said.
Despite this openly promotional objective and targeting blogs based on their readership and web traffic, NAB ?¢‚Ç¨‚Äú which reported a net profit of $4.6 billion last year ?¢‚Ç¨‚Äú at no time considered remunerating bloggers, who typically blog in their own spare time and without sponsorship.
On its website, under the heading ?¢‚Ç¨?ìKey points to help protect yourself online?¢‚Ç¨¬ù, NAB advises its customers to ?¢‚Ç¨?ìDelete spam emails and do not open email attachments from strangers. Consider using a SPAM filter.?¢‚Ç¨¬ù
However, Ms Glennie-Holmes said she didn?¢‚Ç¨‚Ñ¢t see anything contradictory in the bank stressing online safety and security and warning customers about spam when it was itself adopting a communications strategy based on spamming private blogs.
Absolute scum bags and a disgrace to the Australian corporate community. Boycott the NAB now.