What do Burberry, Moncler, Prada, Hermes and Gucci Have In Common With Papa Johns? Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam…

Dennis Ryan, Advertising, OlsonEarlier this week, Papa John’s pizza chain was served a $250 million class-action lawsuit over illegal text messages. Allegedly, they blasted their customers with half a million deal offers, sometimes over a dozen in a row in the middle of the night.

I face a similar issue, albeit on a much smaller scale. This blog gets spam, lots of spam. As I wrote this, I cleared fifty-seven come-ons written by spam artists for whom English must be a far distant second language.

I liked this one: “Wonderful web site. A lot of useful info here. I am sending it to some pals ans additionally sharing in delicious. And naturally, thanks to your sweat!”

Thanks for noticing my sweat, anonymous offshore spammer. I appreciate that.

And then there’s this manic pitch from someone who has been mainlining way too much 5-Hour Energy or worse:  “How about going out for dinner?I want to have a part-time job.What you said was quite true.Let me explain why I was lateDon’t be so childish.What is your plan?What is your plan?All that glitters is not gold.This work itself is very easy.He is used to eating out all the time”

You might want to consider decaf.  Or at least trying the space bar.

Some of these pitches flatter my ego (“great post! I will be having much knowledge now!”), some just get right to the sell (“Best Hermes replica scarves”), but none of these bottom feeders are wanted.  At first, I found it remarkable how the return emails from at least 70% of these spammers mention a luxury fashion brand.  But on second thought, it’s hard to imagine a more perfect pairing than offshore spambot and black-market counterfeiter.

They deserve each other.

By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Olson

I Usually Only Post Monday-Friday, But…

This spam message was just too innovative.  Basically, this one’s angle was to call-me-out, barroom style, for a battle of wits.  Here’s the message:

You have thought up such matchless answer?
Only dare once again to make it!
In my opinion you are not right. I can defend the position. Write to me in PM, we will talk.
You are mistaken. I suggest it to discuss. Write to me in PM, we will talk.
It is an excellent variant


It is an excellent variant indeed.  And I’m tempted to write stirka7.ruzakiryacsfvak@mail.ru in the PM at his suggest it to discuss.

Then again, I have plans tonight, so I probably won’t.

By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Element 79

Thanks Twitter But I Don’t Want To Be Followed By Lydia Lancaster (ditzybabe83454)

My daughter and I attended the matinee of “Trust” at the Lookingglass Theatre yesterday.  This imaginatively-presented new play centers around an internet sexual predator and a freshman at New Trier High School.  We found it well-acted and decidedly well-intentioned, although that led to a few ham-fisted moments in the writing.  Still, this tale of the real dangers inherent to easy iPhone and laptop access is enough to make any parent yearn for more Luddite times.

So the topic of inappropriate web contact was already fresh in my mind when I received not just one but two consecutive notices from women I don’t know who nonetheless feel comfortable introducing themselves while topless.  Apparently these aggressively body-confident gals feel compelled to follow both my agency and personal Twitter feeds.

While it would feed my ego to pretend our Tweets provide the kind of entertaining and rewarding commentary that works like a bug light on nymphomaniacs, the truth is I fit a profile: middle aged professional male.  And so my inbox gets bombarded with pitches for every baldness, weight control and erectile dysfunction remedy imaginable.  These are the methods taken by some of the less savory corners of my chosen profession.

Spam goes everywhere–I get that.  And yes, I’m painfully aware of Internet Rule 34 (“If it exists, there is porn of it”).  It just bums me out that everything, everywhere merits a Parental Advisory sticker.  We were just looking to play in the social network, not ‘play’ wink-wink, nudge-nudge.

So no Lydia, I won’t be following you back.

By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Element 79

Is This Progress? Contextual, Behavioral Messaging Comes To Spam.

New techniques in behavioral targeting raise privacy issues very worthy of debate. Some might think this kind of thing is limited only to deep-pocketed, multi-national marketers. Au contraire…

As anyone who’s ever posted a blog realizes, the comments section attracts Spammers, or more specifically, their automated spambots.  These annoying apps rove the web, looking for space to post paragraphs filled with endless variations of  “CHEAP VIAGRA!”  In the year and half that I’ve been writing this weekly blog, a little filter Plugin from Akismet has stopped over 3,000 spams.

But the spammers seem to be getting wise.  And they’re improving their come-ons. Increasingly, the spam Akismet captures for me includes a new generation that’s decidedly more subtle.

There’s now the “Blatant Appeal to the Blogger’s Ego” spam:

Dennis Ryan Element 79 Chicago Advertising

And it’s sibling, the “Blatant Appeal to the Blogger’s Ego with Uncalled for Enthusiasm” spam:

Dennis Ryan Element 79 Chicago Advertising

There’s the diligent variation, the “Blatant Appeal to the Blogger’s Ego with A Dutiful Promise of Follow Up Action, Despite the Odd Initial Automation Code Artifact” spam:

Dennis Ryan Element 79 Chicago Advertising

And there’s the exuberant variation, the “Blatant Appeal to the Blogger’s Ego that Starts With a Well-Recognized Web Brand” spam:

There’s the foot-in-the-door variant, the “Blatant Appeal to the Blogger’s Ego While Phishing for an E-Mail” spam:

Dennis Ryan Element 79 Chicago Advertising

Finally, there’s the type like this, which I’m sure is even cagier still, but the cyrillic type keeps me from ever really knowing:

Dennis Ryan Element 79 Chicago Advertising

If that last one offends anyone, I apologize.  Seriously, it could pretty much say anything.

By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Element 79

Spammed-A-Lot: Imagining a Life Without Akismet

When I first started blogging a year ago, I noticed this little switch on WordPress that activated something called Akismet.  Apparently, this product shielded my comments section from Spam, and so I clicked it.

Picture 2Those Akismet people make a seriously great product: to date I’ve been shielded from upwards of twelve hundred comments, most of which look like the graphic at left.  Seriously, that’s what spammers typically post to my comments section.  Over and over again.

Now I’m not gonna pretend the promise of greater virility (and more satisfaction for her!) has no audience, particularly among middle aged men like myself…but why do they then make the leap to also assume I’m fat (Hoodia), depressed (Effexor, Lexapro, Paxil), hearburn-y (Nexium, Prilosec), and swimming in cholesterol (Lipitor)?  Seriously, this is how you think it’s best to introduce and promote yourself?  Sending me a slew of value judgments presented in a barrage of repetitious garbage?  And they you do it over and over with link after link in spam after spam?   This is the marketing equivalent of a busload of campers singing “100 Bottle of Beer on the Wall” but starting at say, 237,999.  That’s not marketing, it’s bombardment.

Please, for the love of all that is good and holy and beautiful in this world, never, ever, ever click on this kind of garbage.  Who we choose to reward with our discretionary spending reflects our values.

And I can’t think of anyone I know who isn’t better than this.

By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Element 79