Another brand has come in for some criticism this week for an email campaign that caused offense, but Office's lighthearted comment about not forgetting to shave your legs now that the are coming out for summer footwear will most likely be seen as a joke that fell flat on some people.
Where Jawbone has really gone wrong can be summed up in just the three words of its subject line 'Re: Your Dad'. It's a personal bugbear of mine when brands pretend they are in the middle of a conversation with me when they use the word 'Re:' anyway. However, this takes it to new heights. Anyone, like myself, who was unfortunate enough to lose their dad early on in life will rightly have been shocked by the incoming message. As many people criticising it on social media point out, the main reaction was "what about my dad?" It was arresting and caught the attention of bereaved customers for all the wrong reasons. Even those who are still fortunate enough to have a father to buy a gift for on Father's Day might have been shocked and then felt tricked into opening the email.
Crafting a decent subject line has to be most important part of any email content writing that any brand will regularly undertake. Not starting it with "re" has to be golden rule number one. The second golden rule has to be to not pretend to be more friendly with a customer than you actually are. I get dozens of emails suggesting "Treat dad this Father's Day" and "Give your dad the gift of x this Father's Day." There's no problem there -- you would hardly expect a brand to know how many parents you still have living. In fact, it would be more spooky if they did.
It's not the sending out of an email promoting your wares for Father's Day that's a problem -- it's that assumed familiarity and a subject line that suggests there's something more important to talk about than some brand's wearable tech.
The lessons learned should be: never use "re" unless it's automatically generated in a genuine response and never try to assume an air that you know your customers or their relatives (dead or alive) than you actually do. People who trick customers into opening emails rarely find they're in for a treat.