Urban Spamming (and HSBC drops Bluetooth Advertising)

Adrian J Cotterill, Editor-in-Chief

Two mentions of “spam’ in one day came across our desks – the first from Alex Hughes at Amigo Digital who pointed us at this blog (about creativity and branding) post which discusses (again) Minority Report …

Whenever marketing specialists talk about the future of perfectly targeted advertising the classic scene from Minority Report comes up. It apparently captures nirvana for advertisers; the ability to precisely identify and perfectly direct persuasive commercial messages at a particular individual. Let’s ponder for a minute what a misguided bit of futurology this is.

1. Where’s His Pop-Up Blocker?

He’s an elite psi-detective or something. You’re telling me he can’t get hold of some open source future firefox ambient ad blocker thingy?

2. Where’s The Societal Push-back?

OK. Maybe he’s in an awful future where such resistance isn’t tolerated. I can’t remember. But this would never be allowed in the real world. Society is pushing back the boundaries of advertising all the time, through legislation and social and commercial pressure. The EU would never allow this. It’ll probably get piloted in Time Square (like that ridiculous directed sound thing) and then abandoned as egregious urban spam.

3. What About The Standard Of Creativity?

One thing I know to be true. If advertising’s going to survive in any form then it has to get much, much better. And those ads there are typically cliched, un-imaginative streams of nonsense. I can’t believe they’d invest all that money in corneal recognition and not spring for some decent creative. Especially as they’re presumably getting real time tracking telling them all these ads have failed.

4. They’re Just Shouting His Name

Yup. With all their genius and precise targeting this is all they can manage to do. Shout his name. In the obviously crass manner beloved of direct mail – Dear Your Name. That, at least, feels true. But is this the best that future marketing can do? Because let’s face it, when that’s the only thing an organisation has to do, it can seldom even get that right.

Secondly this month’s issue of UNWIRED makes mention of HSBC’s recent decision to drop all Bluetooth advertising. Apparently HSBC ran a trial in its Regent Street and Canary Wharf branches earlier this year. Whilst HSBC claim that feedback amongst those who accepted the messages was generally positive it concluded that it wouldn’t be economically viable to attempt a larger roll out.

The UNWIRED report ends with a quote which I like (especially as it supports my own personal case against Bluejacking) which says “This form of proximity marketing, by nature intrusive, bears comparison with spamming and seems likely to remain unpopular”.

Definitions of bluejacking on the Web:

Bluejacking is a practice of sending anonymous text messages to mobile users using Bluetooth. Phones that are Bluetooth-enabled can be tweaked to …


Bluejacking is the sending of unsolicited messages over Bluetooth to Bluetooth-enabled devices such as mobile phones, PDAs or laptop computers, sending a vCard which typically contains a message in the name field (i.e. for bluedating or bluechat) to another bluetooth enabled device via the OBEX …


Leave a Reply