Concerned at the erosion of consumer trust in advertising by the growing tsunami of unsolicited email, the Association of National Advertisers and American Association of Advertising Agencies are working together on a joint anti-spam policy.

But the ANA-4A’s spam manifesto, intended to guide members’ behavior and lobbying efforts, avoids biting the bullet of an 'opt-in' program – in which unsolicited emails cannot be sent to consumers unless they express a prior wish to receive them. Nor does the new policy support the emulation of a telemarketing-style “do-not-call” list.

Among the moves recommended are …

• Clear and failsafe systems enabling consumers to opt-out of unwanted email.
• The avoidance of deceptive subject lines and other misleading practices.
• The use by marketers of functional return email addresses in the “From” panel, thereby enabling recipients to reply to listed addresses.
• These “From” addresses should clearly identify the brands or organizations sending the email.

The AAAA board approved the guidelines last week and the ANA board will to vote on the policy in September. Among the major advertisers helping to draft the anti-spam policy are Kraft Foods, Masterfoods, Procter & Gamble and Unilever.

Almost all members of the two associations have already implemented 'opt-in' only standards for email programs, most of which are stricter than the proposed guidelines, claims Norm Lehoullier, ceo of Grey Interactive and chair of the 4A's interactive committee.

Data sourced from:; additional content by WARC staff