BBC blasted for ‘evil mail’ claim

The DM industry has launched a robust defence following BBC One’s Panorama last night which claimed all direct mail – whether legitimate advertising or scam mail – was “evil”.
Presented by reporter Tom Heap, better known as front-man of the pet-lovers’ show Animal 24:7, the programme started by bemoaning the “tsunami of junk mail”, which, it claimed, flooded UK letterboxes every day.
This brought a swift response on the #panoramamail Twitter feed. Russell White of Premier Consultants tweeted: “Junk Mail ‘evil’? Tell that to the 000’s who are employed in the direct marketing & mail order industries!” Heap also interviewed DMA chief Chris Combemale, who pointed out the fact that half of all consumers had bought goods and services through direct mail last year and therefore to call it junk was a nonsense.
Unperturbed, the programme then tried to expose the industry’s environmental record, estimating it cost the country £50m a year to dispose of junk mail. It calculated this figure after extrapolating that it cost Cornwall alone £700,000 a year. But the DMA claims this figure was wrong in the first place and that it included all paper – not just unwanted direct mail. One person tweeted: “76% of advertising mail is recycled. Advertising mail = 0.4% of household waste, food = 30% of household waste.”
The programme then moved on to the issue of scam mail – estimated to cost UK consumers £2.4bn a year – claiming that Royal Mail was benefitting from the rise of scam mail, and in some cases encouraging it.
raxlakhani (Rax Lakhani) tweeted: “Blaming Royal Mail for the criminal scam-mail is a bit like blaming London Underground for helping transport pickpockets,” while dove_from_above (Rik Salmon) said: “Muddling scam mail in with DM is like comparing your ASOS email with a phising email from a ‘Nigerian lottery winner’”. Meanwhile the DMA tweeted: “Scam mail is obviously illegal and plainly wrong, so should be stopped. No dispute there…”
DecisionMarketing columnist Jonathan Spooner tweeted: “Well, there was good programme to be made about Junk Mail vs Scam Mail. That was not it. Panorama? Pah!”
One industry insider told DecisionMarketing: “This programme simply cobbled together two entirely separate issues in an attempt to reinforce old prejudices about ‘junk mail’. The industry has moved on significantly over the past few years, but that does not make for a good story, so no-one is going to say that.
“The fact is if you don’t want to receive direct mail you don’t have to but, funnily enough, they did not mention that. According to reporter Tom Heap’s own website, he is a ‘trusted and engaging broadcaster with an award winning track record in factual programmes’. Next time, maybe he should check his facts a bit better.”

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