McDonald’s warned for ‘send to friends’ marketing | ACMA

McDonald’s warned for ‘send to friends’ marketing

ACMA Media Release 99- 18 December 2012

The Australian Communications and Media Authority has given McDonald’s Australia Limited a formal warning under the Spam Act about a ‘send to friends’ facility on the McDonald’s Happy Meal website.

An ACMA investigation found emails sent using the ‘send to friends’ facility (which promoted games and activities) were sent to friends of users without ensuring the friends’ consent. The messages also did not have an unsubscribe facility, as required by the Spam Act.

McDonald’s has since removed the ‘send to friends’ facility from the Happy Meal website, and has given assurances about its future e-marketing activities.

‘This case should alert businesses that they must think carefully before using "friend get friend" marketing,’ said ACMA Chairman Chris Chapman. ‘When sending your marketing messages, you must make sure that there is consent from the actual person who is going to receive your message. You can’t just assume consent has been given.’

The ACMA’s most recent e-marketing blog deals with ‘friend get friend’ marketing. The blog explains the difficulties that arise from this sort of marketing, and the impact these may have on your business’ reputation.

The e-marketing blog is a key part of the ACMA’s campaign–'Successful e-marketing…it’s about reputation'–which highlights that e-marketing to recipients who do not want to receive your messages is not a successful business strategy. To sign up for the blog and to get further information about 'Successful e-marketing…it’s about reputation,' go to

If you receive a marketing email that you think may not comply with the Spam Act, you can report it to the ACMA’s Spam Intelligence Database by forwarding the message to You can forward SMS spam to the Spam SMS service on 0429 999 888

For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact: Blake Murdoch on (02) 9334 7817, 0434 567 391 or




The Spam Act 2003 regulates unsolicited commercial electronic messaging in Australia. Commercial electronic messages can be emails, SMS messages, MMS messages, instant messaging messages or any other similar messages.

The Act sets outs that commercial electronic messages must have the following features:

  • Consent – it must be sent with the recipient's consent. They may give express consent, or consent may be inferred from their conduct and "existing business or other relationships
  • Identify – it must contain accurate information about the person or organisation that authorised the sending of the message
  • Unsubscribe – it must contain a functional "unsubscribe" facility to allow the recipient to opt-out from receiving messages from that source in the future. 


Last updated: 24 April 2015