The Direct Marketing Association of South Africa (DMASA) is an organisation which represents the interactive and direct marketing industry, with its member list comprising hundreds of South African companies.
Joining the DMASA is voluntary, however, and requires companies to adhere to a strict set of rules or face heavy consequences.
These rules aim to protect South African consumers from invasive direct marketing practices which could violate local regulations.
Direct marketing includes SMSs advertising products, cold calls, emails, and many other segments.
Do not contact me
The DMASA also offers a Do Not Contact list, which allows South Africans to opt out of all direct marketing conducted by member organisations.
DMASA members are not allowed to target South Africans registered on the opt-out list with any direct marketing, and users must contact the DMASA to cancel their opt-out.
Many prominent South African companies are members of this association, including Vodacom, Cell C, Outsurance, Bidvest Insurance, Standard Bank, Absa, and FNB.
Companies who violate the ethics code of the DMASA are penalised with a number of consequences, including suspension or even blacklisting the offending company on its website.
There are a number of companies which are not members of the DMASA and still engage in direct marketing, though, and the association told MyBroadband that it hopes they will consider joining in future.
These companies are not required to abide by the Do Not Contact list on the DMASA website, as they are not part of the association and are not restricted by its rules.
“Subscribing to DMASA’s membership is at the discretion of the businesses,” said the DMASA.
“Businesses have not stated any particular reasons for not subscribing to DMASA’s membership. We hope it is something they will consider in the future.”
MyBroadband spoke to the prominent companies which are not members – their feedback is below.
Discovery told MyBroadband it does not send SMSs to users who are not already customers.
“Discovery does not contact non-Discovery clients directly, in other words, Discovery does not SMS non-Discovery clients,” the company said.
It added that Discovery Life adverts are sent to Discovery customers through a third-party marketing provider.
“While Discovery Life does not deploy any SMS marketing directly to the Discovery client base, we work with a select set of highly reputable marketing providers, chosen because of their ethical processes and sophisticated databases.”
“A pre-requisite with our partners is that they comply with all applicable legislation and standards.”
Telkom said it sends marketing SMSs to existing clients and notes that while it is not a DMASA member, it follows international best practice when initiating direct marketing.
“Telkom has initiated direct marketing campaigns to existing customers and adheres to direct marketing best practice and principles,” said Telkom.
“We have strict controls, including the ability for customers to opt-out.”
“In addition to this, Telkom makes use of leading international agencies to advise on direct marketing best practice and several suppliers are members.”
MyBroadband reached out to MTN for comment, but the company did not provide feedback by the time of publication.