Complaints about DM rise as medium grows

LONDON - Direct mail is the second most complained about advertising medium, according to figures released by the Advertising Standards Authority in its annual report for 2002.

Of the 13,784 complaints the watchdog resolved last year, 2,710 were about direct mail, second only to poster ads, which received 3,051 complaints.

However, the number of complaints resolved about direct mailings was 401 less than the 3,111 the ASA resolved about direct mailings in 2001.

As a whole, the number of complaints about direct marketing and database practice fell by 47.6%. The ASA put this down to an improved service from the Mailing Preference Service.

Leaflets were another popular target for complaints and ranked sixth in the list with 918 complaints, up from 764 in 2001. Inserts in 18th place, however, received just 64 complaints, down from 162 in 2001.

Text message marketing had 65% complaints, up from six the previous year, while email marketing was down in 24th place with 17 complaints.

Of the most complained about ads for 2002, number 10 was a direct mail campaign from Midlands Mainline. The mailing was in the form of a traffic ticket, misleadingly implying that recipients had committed a traffic offence. The ASA received 71 complaints about the mailing, which were upheld.

The rise in complaints about direct marketing reflect the growth in the medium in the last year. According to the IPA's latest Bellwether report, direct marketing budgets were revised upwards for the third quarter running, proving that companies are shifting their budgets to this discipline because it is more efficient and costs less.

However, the increase was only slight and was smaller than that seen in the final quarter of last year.

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