"Hi, this is Nick Clegg and I'm phoning to let you know you've won a holiday to Florida"

17 September 2008

I hope for the LibDems' sake they haven't decided to pick a quarter million people in key marginals as the targets for Nick Clegg's telemarketing programme. I can't think of a better way of convincing floating voters to put a cross by the other candidates' names than to take a card out of the offshore scam-merchants' book and play them a recorded message.

It seems the SNP has lodged a complaint with the Information Commissioner - oh the irony - about marketing by telephone without consent using a recorded message. I suspect there is enough of a loophole in it being an "interactive" call, as they can dress it up as market research. The automated element could still fall foul of the regulations (but I need to check). Or maybe they're going to phone from Florida.

Personally, I can live with the parties phoning to ask if I've voted on the day and probably also with a live human being asking what I like or don't like about a given policy. But to ring people and play a party political broadcast at them just has to be the height of stupidity, particularly when your poll ratings aren't all that good in the first place.

So LibDem delegates, go back to your consituencies and prepare for misery.


It looks like this is another UK election campaign team that has hired US strategists. Unfortunately, this approach has been around for a while over here in the US...sigh

I thought they were still mainly using live campaigners in the US, although the policymakers made sure they left a big loophole for automated calls from political parties when they tightened up the telemarketing legislation. Or have they really begun to switch over to automated?

One thing that turned up in the Reuters story was this:

"Experience from the United States showed that around half of those called stayed on the line long enough to hear at least part of the political message.

"It's a higher take-up rate than most people would expect," the spokesman said."

Wow, part of the message. I wonder how many seconds that means. They also might be misled by the tactic of just leaving the phone off the hook and walking away for five minutes in the (admittedly vain) attempt to rack up their phone bill a little.