Direct Marketing – A New Code of Practice for Businesses from the Direct Marketing Association

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Posted in:Corporate and Commercial|October 1, 2014 | Join the mailing list

On 18 August 2014 a new code of practice (the “Code”), issued by the Direct Marketing Association (the “DMA”), came into force. It is the DMA’s intention that the Code will address consumers’ increasing concern about data privacy. The Code specifically focuses
upon data-driven marketing activity and was created following an 18 month consultation with Ofcom, the Information Commissioner’s Office, the Ministry of Justice and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

The purpose of the Code is to “inspire the industry” to treat consumers with “fairness and respect” by adhering to five principles:

1.    Put your customer first – value your customer, understand their needs and offer relevant products and services;

2.    Respect privacy – act in accordance with your customer’s expectations;

3.    Be honest and fair – be honest, fair and transparent throughout your business;

4.    Be diligent with data – treat your customer’s personal data with the utmost care and respect; and

5.    Take responsibility – act responsibly at all times and honour your accountability.

The principles go above and beyond compliance with the law. It was recognised during the consultation period that it was possible to meet the requirements of the law, yet still fall short of the consumers’ expectations. The Code intends to address this disparity.

The Code encourages businesses to be far more open and honest with their marketing. For instance, a business following the Code should not contact a consumer purporting to be researching when in fact, unbeknown to the consumer; the purpose behind their call
is to attempt to sell a product or service to them. DMA members are also encouraged to take responsibility for their sub-contractors and ensure their adherence to the Code. It had become common for business to plead ignorance to the actions of their sub-contractors
and deny responsibility for the consequences of any non-compliance by sub-contractors.

The Code emphasises the need to avoid taking advantage of consumer’s inexperience or lack of knowledge as well as specifically highlighting the need to take additional care when marketing is directed at children or venerable adults.

interactive code of practice can be found here.

Should you have any queries regarding the subject matter of this article, please contact
Stephen Foster, Partner in the Corporate and Commercial Department, at, or by telephoning 0161 833 9211.
The information and opinions contained in this article are not intended to be comprehensive, nor to provide legal advice. No responsibility for its accuracy or correctness is assumed by Berg or any of its partners or employees. Professional legal advice should
be obtained before taking, or refraining from taking, any action as a result of this article.

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