Yet another reminder of the pitfalls of mobile marketing

Forbes caught my eye this afternoon with this piece examining the Papa John’s ill-conceived 2010 mobile marketing campaign. As you may have read a few weeks ago, the pizza chain is facing a $250 million class action lawsuit after it allegedly sent customers illegal text messages. Papa John’s sent out about a half-million texts, according to the plaintiffs, and some customers say the received more than a dozen messages in a row even in the middle of the night.

The Forbes piece, which was written by an ad exec, offers a slew of tips on the dos and don’ts of mobile marketing. Many of these should be no-brainers — things like always get permission to contact your customers, give them opportunities to opt out in every message, and don’t send messages when they’re likely to be unwanted. Treating consumers with respect is particularly crucial in mobile marketing because (as you’ve surely heard before) the phone is the most personal device we carry. That creates an enormous opportunity to deliver promotional offers and other marketing content, and to engage users in a conversation — if that’s what they want. But it also poses a huge risk for advertisers who don’t respect their customers or the medium itself. And Papa John’s is learning that lesson the hard way.