Parklife festival fined for 'distressing' mum text

05/12/14

Parklife fined for 'distressing' mum text

The company behind Manchester's Parklife festival is fined £70,000 after sending text messages claiming to be from festival-goers' mums.

The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) said many of the people who complained suffered "substantial distress".

One teenager, who received the message three years after the death of her mother, said she burst into tears.

Organisers initially made a joke about the complaints but later apologised.

The message said: "Some of the Parklife after parties have already sold. If your going, make sure your home for breakfast!." (sic)

Ros' Story

Nineteen-year-old Ros Prior was one of the 70,000 who bought a ticket to last year's event.

Three weeks before this year's event in June received a message from her "mum".

Her mother had died of multiple sclerosis three years earlier.

Ros Prior

"My phone went off and I clicked to read it," she explained.

"It said, 'New message from mum' and my heart stopped.

"Even though it was only two seconds of sheer panic, it was horrible because I just saw mum. You just think, 'Oh my god, is she still alive?'

"I started crying. And then I read the text and realised it was Parklife."

Ros tweeted a picture of an email she had sent to the organiser explaining how upsetting she found the messages.

She said: "People kept getting in touch, saying they felt the same and that Parklife couldn't get away with this."

Ros' email to Parklife.

Ros wasn't alone.

The ICO, a body which protects people's personal information, said one festival-goer who contacted them had kept the number of his recently-deceased mother in his contacts and was extremely "distressed" when he received the "unprofessional and disgusting message".

Others felt so strongly they sold their tickets and refused to attend the festival.

Parklife did not initially take the complaint hugely seriously, tweeting: "So this is what it feels like to be a jar of Marmite #LoveItOrHateIt."

The company later apologised and has cooperated with the ICO investigation after it received 76 complaints.

Parklife fined for 'distressing' mum text

A spokesperson said: "The communication was intended as a fun way of engaging festival-goers. However, the festival acknowledges that this was not an appropriate theme for everyone.

"The Parklife Weekender wants to apologise for any offence caused by the SMS marketing message sent to their customers earlier this year. "

The ICO fined Parklife Manchester Ltd for breaching regulations because the identity of the person behind the text it sent to customers was "disguised or concealed".

Head of ICO enforcement, Steve Eckersley, said: "This was a poorly thought out piece of marketing that didn't appear to even try to follow the rules or consider the impact that their actions would have on the privacy of individuals.

Snoop Dogg
Image caption Snoop Dogg and Foals were headliners for this year's Parklife Weekender

"It made some people very upset in an attempt to sell tickets to a club night. The fine sends a clear message that using this type of marketing is unacceptable."

Snoop Dogg and Foals headlined this year's Parklife Weekender.

The likes of Disclosure, Bastille, London Grammar and Plan B have also performed at the festival in recent years.

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