The e-mail newsletter network Daily Candy is a great business. People subscribe to get local reviews and opt-in to ads in the process. Comcast agreed, snatching up the service for a reported $125 million in 2009.
But it turns out that some revenue sources may be off-limits (or at least test users' limits). Email ads may have to play by different rules from the banners and commercials that support other media.
Today, DailyCandy sent California residents a missive from California gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman, a Republican. It came with the subject line, "A Message from Meg Whitman - Dedicated E-mail." The text was standard campaign literature, but the ad set off a mini-Twitter firestorm.
While the service regularly broadcasts advertisements -- what it calls "dedicated e-mails" -- there was something about a political ad making its way unsolicited into people's inboxes that caused shock and dismay.
Dozens of angry Twitterers have assailed the company with promises of unsubscription. Here's just a sampling:
@oaklandmagpie: What was up with the Meg Whitman ad sent to your Daily Candy subscribers? You lost me and a bunch of others because of it!
And those are just the ones without any of George Carlin's seven words you can never say on TV.
It's hard to know if this is just a few impassioned Democrats or a real problem for the service. In either case, I think it shows that people perceive different advertising spaces in really different ways. No one blames CBS for running campaign ads, right?
We've contacted Daily Candy and will update here if we hear from them.
Update 9/24: As a result of the Whitman flap, Daily Candy will not be sending political advertisements through email. The company director of communications, Meredith Howard, sent us the following email:
A small but vocal group of readers was upset by the San Francisco dedicated email purchased by a political candidate. Due to this feedback, DailyCandy will not carry political advertisements in our Dedicated emails going forward. Never were we endorsing any candidate. We treasure our relationship with our readers and apologize for having offended them or subjected them to an advertisement they would not expect to see on DailyCandy.