The New York Times wanted to reach out to get 300 past home delivery customers and get them interested in coming back by sending them a special deal via email. Sounds like a simple and ordinary marketing task, yes?
Oh no, not really! It might have been, had they not given a clueless employee the job. That employee promptly spammed all 8.6 million people on the paper’s mailing list. The email, offered a 16 week subscription for half off. Many tried calling the phone number in the email to take advantage of the deal, even if they didn’t qualify. The NYT responded with busy signals or recordings say their call could not be completed due to high volume.
To add to the mess, the paper didn’t realize they were actually to blame and sent out an email claiming the spam had come from some unauthorized third party and should be ignored. It wasn’t along until they figured out it was their own careless employee that was to blame.
This was publicity the New York Times just didn’t need. After repeatedly making cuts and laying off employees, they turned around and gave their departing CEO a nice fat $15 million golden parachute, which drew much ire and criticism. The accidental spamming was just icing on the cake, and the fact they have so far refused to honor the 50% deal the erroneous email offered, has just added to that.
I got the email, but didn’t give it much thought because it mentioned they’d noticed I’d recently cancelled home delivery. I never had home delivery, my subscription is digital only. Many of the other 8.6 million felt differently however, and one of them started a parody account on Twitter called @NYTSpam. It’s disclaimer says they aren’t associated with the Times or with spammers of any kind. They got hundreds of followers in just hours. Check them out!