Broad Street Licensing Group Food News

The Dark Side of Food Marketing & Social Media

If you listen to the mavens, social media is the answer to a marketer’s prayers.

You “reach out directly” to your consumer, who embraces your message.

Yeah, well just ask Papa John’s International.

The 4,000-unit, Louisville-based pizza chain is being sued for $250MM for allegedly sending unwanted (and unapproved) text messages to consumers. Nation’s Restaurant News quoted the plaintiffs’ attorney as declaring “consumers do not want spam on their cell phones,” adding “If you do not have permission from your customers, do not send them text messages.” The suit’s basis is the Telephone Consumer Protection Act that includes the “Do Not Call” list designed to stop cold-calling by telephone marketers.

The lawsuit isn’t new, and was first filed back in February 2012. But was only certified as a class action suit this week. The consequences for Papa John’s could be financially painful.

Worse for the chain, the texts were sent by a company (OnTime4U) contracted by a group of its Northwest franchisees. Ouch. Sued for something you didn’t even do yourself, that’s painful.

The defendants are arguing that by ordering pizzas in the past, those who received the text messages offering them deals on future purchases had established a prior business relationship that would circumvent to TCPA. But the judge presiding over the case saw it differently after one franchisee admitted his group did not get permission from the consumers to text them.

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