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Sun Microsystems

Journal: SUN Using Spam/Viral Marketing

Journal by lars_boegild_thomsen

I have been using the same private email address since some time in the late 80's and because of that I receive spam - lots and lots of it. I do however like my short email address, so I wouldn't dream of changing it - rather I have - over the past couple of year - tried a lot of different approaches to fighting it.

Today I am using a site-wide installation of Spamassassin that actually reject spam and the very small number of spam emails that actually reach my inbox (a few a day) are manegable - I can live with it.

Due to the small amount of spams that actually does get through, I usually do pay attention to those that does. I do this partly to figure out what enabled it to pass through my spam filter.

On Monday Jan. 15, 2007 I received an invitation to Sun Tech Days in Kuala Lumpur. The email was obviously send from a web site by referral and I was quite amazed that it did make it pass my spam filter since it really looked like spam (only HTML and HTML containing mostly pictures). Since I like (or should I make it liked) SUN I actually did read though this email and even briefly considered to sign up.

About half an hour later, I received a new email - identical to the first - and so it all started. By the end of the working day I was getting annoyed. By that time I had received about 15 identical emails. I hit the reply button and politely asked the recipient to stop this immediately. The reply bounced immediately saying the recipients email folder was full (I guess I wasn't the first to complaint). Then I forwarded the bounced email to postmaster@circusmax.com and postmaster@sun.com and asked them to stop it.

Getting to work Tuesday I was relieved to discover that no more emails had been received. This only lasted for a short time though, since at 9 am I got the next one. I started investigating and it became obvious to me, that whoever send these to me did so as part of a viral marketing campaign where one could win an Ipod if one refer a "friend". Some was obviously trying to up his changes by referring as many as possible.

By this time I was REALLY getting annoyed and I decided to take the bull by the horns and call SUN in Malaysia. Much to my surprise I managed to get through to their operation manager almost immediately (usually it requires a bit of bullying to reach that high) and I explained to her the problem. She promised to take care of it and get back to me.

Wednesday the problems continued and I once more tried to give SUN a call. This time however I was unable to get in touch with anybody since "they were all at a planning meeting". I asked the receptionist to pass my message and make sure it received urgent attention since I was inches away from blacklisting SUN for good.

Later that day I received a call from an engineer that was struggling to solve the problem and by Thursday it seems that he was successful.

The reason for this rant is my surprise that SUN of all companies will fall this low. They actually employ viral marketing/spam to get attention to their products. They offer people a chance to win an Ipod to refer others, but implement the system so weak that I end up receiving somewhere around 50 emails and have to call them 3-4 times to make it stop. I honestly think SUN owe ME an Ipod and that I should be rewarded - not the jerk who kept referring me.

Does this kind of marketing work? I really don't know, but what I do know is that it turned me from being quite a long time fan of SUN products into someone with VERY little respect or admiration for SUN.

I hope whoever annoyed me enjoy his Ipod and to SUN all I've got to say is: Shame on you!

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