Humour, sarcasm and free pizza: our favourite GDPR emails from designers

Designers have been getting creative with their emails about GDPR, the new European Union-wide regulations that came into force today. Here are some of our favourites.

Many GDPR emails have been pious, dull or cliche-ridden, such as efforts featuring a “Time is running out” message placed next to a gif, of an egg timer and a collage of a padlock superimposed over the EU flag.

There were also puns and bad jokes, such as “Why are Pirates interested in data privacy? Because they GDP RRRRRRR!”

Some designers decided to have fun with their GDP RRRRRRR emails

However some designers put a bit of effort into their messages.

Best of all was Dutch designer Marije Vogelzang, who appeared to welcome the regulations as a way of relieving herself of troublesome subscribers.

Some designers welcomed the law

“What a great new law!” Vogelzang’s message started. “Help me clean up my list!”

“My mailing list is super messy,” she explained. “I’m so happy this new law is a great incentive to finally clean up and get rid of some of you.”

Fewer subscribers would save her money with her newsletter provider, she pointed out, adding that: “I only like awkward people in my list so if you are too normal I kindly request you to unsubscribe.”

The message included a photo of Vogelzang in her new kitchen.

Vogelzang took the opportunity to show her subscribers a picture of her new kitchen

GDPR, or General Data Protection, is the European Union’s new data-protection regulation. The laws regarding data personal data protection and privacy have generated a huge number of emails asking people to confirm subscriptions.

Some companies attempted shock tactics as they attempted to comply with the new rules. “Boiler Room Merges With Cambridge Analytica,” was the clickbait-y subject line of the newsletter from music website Boiler Room, adding “LOL, JK” inside the email, together with a graphic urging subscribers to join its “new mailing list”.

Boiler Room attempted shock tactics in their GDPR emails

Creativepool, the creative industries networking resource, offered food in exchange for consent. “We’re going to attempt to take the ‘arghhhh’ out of yet another GDPargh email by rewarding you with some free pizza!” it promised, although the reality was a little more mundane.

“Reply to this email with the hashtag #GDPizzaR to be in with the chance of winning free pizza from your favourite pizza joint!” it explained at the bottom of the message.

Design firms get creative for GDPR

Design PR firm Alpha Kilo admitted it couldn’t think of a clever way to stand out amid the tsunami of exhortations.

“We couldn’t find the right words…” ran the subject line, with the email starting: “So we’ve let Michael, Al, KCs & The Sunshine Band, Simple Minds, Human League, and Rick say it for us.

Beneath this was a collage of pop stars and song titles, including Rick Astley’s Never Going to Give You Up and Human League’s Don’t You Want Me Baby.

PR firm Alpha Kilo included pop stars and song titles in their GDPR effort

The deluge of emails revealed varying interpretations of the new law, with some warning that this was the “last chance” to sign up for future newsletters, while others sent messages informing recipients that they did not need to take action.

“If you wish to keep in touch with us and remain updated with our upcoming exhibitions and projects, you do not have to do anything,” wrote Experimenta Design.

Designers admit they don’t understand GDPR

Ian and Richard Abell of Based Upon took the brave step of admitting they didn’t understand the law. “It’s not totally clear what is expected, but it is our understanding that we must ask you to opt in to hear from us again,” they wrote.

However they then resorted to surreal language, stating: “We’re also asking you to clarify if you want to opt out, so that we don’t end up opting you out just because you missed the email and haven’t actively opted in.”

The email ended: “If you’re unsure of what this means, please ask and we’ll get straight back to you.”

Doug Scott sent a potato

English entrepreneur Doug Scott took the record for the most number of reminders, sending 11 increasingly inventive messages, with the last one beginning: “Here is a picture of a potato”. This was followed by a picture of a potato.

Scott added a candid passage about his success rate so far.

“Almost 2000 people have now opted in to my GDPR-playing emails,” he wrote. “That is about 20 per cent of my total list size, or about 50 per cent of the engaged users.”

Dezeen played it safe with our GDPR graphic

News reports have suggested that only about 10 per cent of recipients have taken action, so Scott’s tactics seem to have paid off.

“The stats don’t lie, it works,” he wrote. “Almost all small newsletter senders have lost/forgotten/etc. how they acquired the email lists they have. If you own a ‘grey’ email list then you potentially cannot send email within the EU in two days time, so you cannot talk to your audience.

He continued: “Surely you would try many interesting ways to get people to agree to GDPR before May 25th and send many ‘interesting’ things many times to increase your chances. My way today is to send you a picture of a potato.”

Dezeen’s updated privacy notice is here, by the way, and there is a digested version of it here. And if you don’t subscribe to our (GDPR-friendly) emails already, then what are you waiting for! Join up here.

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