We’re into the countdown to July 1 when Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation kicks in with a radically new regime on consent. Marketing editor-in-chief David Thomas caught up with Adam Froman, CEO of Delvinia and AskingCanadians, to discuss whether the marketing industry is ready for it.
Froman: I can say from my own experience that I did not give it much thought until a few months ago when I was sitting in a board meeting with the Marketing Research and Intelligence Association (MRIA) and the discussion on CASL came up.
Given the nature of our AskingCanadians online research community, I called our lawyer to see what, if anything, we should do. After speaking to her, I realized that this was a much more serious initiative than I had first thought.
Marketing: You’d have to assume that the companies with teams of corporate counsel have got their heads wrapped around it. But if they still have trouble with it, what’s likely to be a challenge?
Froman: CASL is all about consent. It’s about withdrawal of consent. It’s about keeping records of consent and withdrawal of consent. It’s about transparency and clear communications.
It’s about the content/context of the electronic messages. In order to ensure that fits within the exemptions outlined by CASL, organizations need to ensure they have the proper consent from their recipients.
We all know the types of companies that this legislation is targeted towards. However, what concerns me most is the unknown in terms of how our government will choose to enforce CASL and I think that unknown will be a challenge for most organizations.
Our lawyer advised us that even though we are not the target of CASL, that it would benefit us immensely to demonstrate we had taken measures to prepare for the legislation in the event that a complaint or issue arises that the CASL enforcement team choses to question or look into.
Spending a few thousand dollars in lawyer’s fees now is insurance from spending tens of thousands to potentially fight a complaint later on. And, if for some reason, the government is looking to make an example of a company, we all know they have much deeper financial resources to pursue such a claim than most organizations have to fight it.
Marketing: You have decided to launch an awareness campaign and quiz, what exactly are you up to? It’s certainly helpful if you can help firms avoid $10 million dollar fines.
Froman: When we asked around, many of our industry colleagues and clients still weren’t aware of the implications of CASL for their organizations. We thought a campaign might create some intrigue around what will happen after July 1st – similar to the intrigue associated with the Mayan Calendar and the predictions about the end of the world. Will all spam end on July 1? Will companies become a target because they send emails to their email distribution lists?
Initially we knew we had to implement changes for our AskingCanadians community. Since we are dealing with consumers, we knew we had to ensure we were prepared for any challenges or questions that might arise. Also, we wanted to ensure that our AskingCanadians’ market research clients had taken the appropriate measures to protect themselves so we wouldn’t be exposed.
At Delvinia, we have our own email distribution lists and we wanted to ensure we had done all we needed to do to communicate with our contacts that we are taking CASL seriously. Our greatest worry was that if we simply sent an email asking our clients and friends to click to consent, that our list size would drop by 75 per cent.
By creating a campaign to generate awareness that there is only one month until the CASL deadline – in conjunction with creating a bit of fear about the unknown, we asked our contacts to test their readiness for CASL. We felt we’d have a better chance of increasing our confirmation rate than simply asking them to confirm we could continue to email them.
When we came up with the idea of the CASL quiz, we felt this campaign had legs beyond just our needs and that it would be good corporate gesture to share what we had learned with the industry as a whole in a fun and engaging manner.