An ACMA investigation found emails sent using the facility to promote games and activities were sent to friends of users without ensuring their consent. The messages also did not have an unsubscribe facility, as required by the Spam Act.
McDonald’s has since removed the 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 said marketing technique was "one of the most common types of complaint" it dealt with. Consumers often wondered how a particular business obtained their personal email address, it added.