So, at last a bit of welcome news from the ICO. Here it is in black and white in new guidance for the charity sector. Consent is not required if you are using direct mail and relying on “legitimate interest”. Considering the amount of utter nonsense being spouted by so many “overnight experts” this is an extraordinarily timely piece of black and white advice from the ICO to marketers.
That said, it was rather curiously tucked away in the FAQs of the advice specifically designed for the charity sector. The very same sector that has spent the past 24 months, since the Etherington Review, paralysed with fear of potential repercussions of using data incorrectly. Ironic really, when the mainstay of British fundraising had always been direct mail, that it is now that very same channel that will no doubt bring about the resurgence in charitable marketing.
Of course this doesn’t just apply to charities, it applies to any organisation that has a legitimate interest to process data, no matter what sector. It is very important to realise that, when late in the day, the EU added those 18 words to clause 47 of GDPR (“The processing of personal data for direct marketing purposes may be regarded as carried out for legitimate purposes”) they meant direct mail.
Today, direct mail is regarded very differently from a decade ago. It turns out that compared to email, SMS or voice calls, it is perceptibly a comparative saint. It is remarkably unobtrusive and has the tactility to create real connections with the recipient and relay real brand value.
The ICO should be applauded for this much needed definitive advice, much more of the same is required… please! Hopefully then, and I suspect only then, will we see an end to the ridiculous scaremongering and be able to get on with running our businesses whilst continuing to protect the consumer interest.
Mark Roy is founder and chairman of REaD Group