Following Whitman Flap, DailyCandy Won't Send Political Ad Emails (Updated)

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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:

@ I've subscribed to you for 10 years, and today was the last day. Meg Whitman?? Are you kidding me?? I'm out."

: @ i love you dearly, but a dedicated email from Meg Whitman? Come on, now.

: Thanks @ for the "dedicated email" from @. Finally gave me a reason to unsubscribe from your stupid daily emails.

: 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!

: wtf. Meg Whitman's campaign gave @ money to spam their subscribers w/ a dedicated email. Way to sell out. Unsubscribing.

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.

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Alexis C. Madrigal

Alexis Madrigal is the deputy editor of TheAtlantic.com, where he also oversees the Technology Channel. He's the author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology. More

The New York Observer has called Madrigal "for all intents and purposes, the perfect modern reporter." He co-founded Longshot magazine, a high-speed media experiment that garnered attention from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the BBC. While at Wired.com, he built Wired Science into one of the most popular blogs in the world. The site was nominated for best magazine blog by the MPA and best science Web site in the 2009 Webby Awards. He also co-founded Haiti ReWired, a groundbreaking community dedicated to the discussion of technology, infrastructure, and the future of Haiti.

He's spoken at Stanford, CalTech, Berkeley, SXSW, E3, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and his writing was anthologized in Best Technology Writing 2010 (Yale University Press).

Madrigal is a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley's Office for the History of Science and Technology. Born in Mexico City, he grew up in the exurbs north of Portland, Oregon, and now lives in Oakland.

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