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ASA clamps down on invasive marketing tactics

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Complaints about text message ads have grown by a factor of six in the UK over the last 12 months. The surge in complaints about mobile spam has prompted the introduction of new guidelines from advertising watchdogs.

The volume of complaints about text ads grew to the UK's Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) grew from 65 in 2002 to 393 last year, the FT reports. ASA recorded only six such complaints in 2001.

Henceforth ASA will require marketing firms that to obtain prior consent before sending consumers text messages. Significant conditions for a promotion must be stated in initial text messages and the identity of a marketing firm must be specified to consumers.

The boom in complaints about text message and voicemail campaigns including gripes about a marketing promo for Tom Cruise file Minority Report. The ad featured sound clips from the film including heavy breathing and screaming. Some consumers complained that they found the message distressing because they did not realise it was an advert. ®

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