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Honda Federal Credit Union Selects Redbeard for eStatement Campaign; Creative Design Firm Developing Campaign for New eStatement Product

HOLLISTER, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Jan. 12, 2005--Honda Federal Credit Union (Honda FCU) today announced it has chosen Redbeard(TM) Communications to develop a campaign to promote its new eStatement service. Redbeard is a brand strategy and creative design firm recognized throughout the financial industry for its results-oriented marketing work with some of the nation's largest credit unions.

Thirty-eight percent of Honda FCU members currently use the credit union's internet banking services, prompting the credit union to further bolster its online offering by adding eStatements as an alternative to the traditional printed paper statements. To promote the eStatement option, the credit union conducted a direct mail campaign, designed by Redbeard, offering free Online Bill Pay service as an incentive for members who register for eStatements.

A response rate of five to ten percent is expected for the campaign. The added incentive is intended to cross-promote the entire suite of Honda FCU online banking products and services, as well as drive traffic to its website where members can benefit from a wide range of traditional financial services.

"In light of our Internet services expansion, we felt it was time to promote these options to our members," said Mary Anawalt, vice president of marketing at Honda FCU. "We sought a firm that understood the credit union industry, the needs of our members and offered a fresh perspective. Redbeard Communications did just that. I have admired the company's designs for many years. Its creative edge and talent for niche marketing is key for meeting our goals of expanding Internet services and increasing member satisfaction."

The campaign consists of two direct mailers, a rotating Web graphic, account statement inserts and branch posters. Redbeard designed the direct mail messaging to target two groups of members with checking accounts. Members currently paying for the Bill Pay service were targeted in order to heighten competition by offering the service for free. Members not using the Bill Pay service were targeted to draw them into online banking.

"Honda FCU's members will enjoy significant savings by registering for eStatements and our messaging was designed to show the added value," said Gregg Hoffman, president of Redbeard. "The credit union's commitment to providing members with technology based products is clear in this campaign, an influential factor with its members. These web-savvy members want to align themselves with 'smart' companies. They will be quick to perceive a technological gap. Not only does our message reassure members that Honda FCU is continuing to offer them the latest in technological advances, but it also works to increase customer-loyalty. We understand the value of carefully identifying a target audience and creating a focused piece to convey the message. This creative insight, coupled with our financial industry expertise allows Redbeard to provide added value for our clients."

About Redbeard Communications, Inc.

Hollister, Calif.-based Redbeard Communications, Inc. is an award-winning brand consulting and strategic design firm. The firm is recognized throughout the financial and credit union industry for its results-oriented marketing strategy, brand building, identity, direct mail, collateral and interactive design expertise in working with some of the nations largest credit unions. Founded in 1989, the firm maintains a diverse clientele and delivers a global marketing perspective enriched by senior staff work for such clients as Ocean Pacific, LA Gear, Universal Pictures, Getty Images, Gotcha, Paramount Television, Promax Nutrition, Nexxus Hair Products, Princess Cruise Resorts, Kinko's, Gibralter Savings, Coast Savings and Loan and SportPharma USA among others.

For more information on Redbeard Communications, visit or call 831-634-4633.


1. What is Spam?

The term Spam refers to unsolicited, unwanted, inappropriate bulk email, Usenet postings and MUD/IRC monologs. For the purposes of this discussion, we will use the term Spam primarily in reference to email, which is what it is generally understood to mean when used in connection with the Internet. Spam is often referred to as Unsolicited Bulk Mail (UBM), Excessive Multi-Posting (EMP), Unsolicited Commercial email (UCE), spam mail, bulk email or just junk mail.

2. When is Spam Spam?

Exactly where to draw the line between Spam and legitimate email or spam free bulk email is not as obvious as it may seem. To some, any and all email that does not come from an approved source is Spam. According to Mail Abuse Prevention System (MAPS)

An electronic message is "spam" IF: (1) the recipient's personal identity and context are irrelevant because the message is equally applicable to many other potential recipients; AND (2) the recipient has not verifiably granted deliberate, explicit, and still-revocable permission for it to be sent; AND (3) the transmission and reception of the message appears to the recipient to give a disproportionate benefit to the sender.

3. Where does the term “Spam” come from?

The prevailing theory is that the term refers to a classic skit by Monty Python’s Flying Circus. In the skit a couple in a restaurant tries in vain to order something that does not have SPAM in it. As the waitress lists endless dishes, all of them containing increasing amounts of SPAM, a group of Vikings in the corner begin to sing “spam, spam, spam, spam…” until all useful information is drowned out. But where did the connection between unwanted SPAM and unwanted Spam come from?

It did not start with email. The term has it roots, in relation to the Internet, in the late 1980s or early 1990s in Multi-User Dungeons (MUD) and Multi-User Shared Hallucinations (MUSH). MUDs and MUSHes are online, real-time, interactive, text-based virtual environments. According to one source, a MUSH user programmed a macro key to type “spam spam spam…” in a MUSH until his connection was terminated by a SysAdmin. He was subsequently referred to as “the !*%@ who spammed us” by other members. From MUDs and MUSHes the term Spam began to be used to describe Excessive Multi-Posting (EMP) on Usenet groups. Usenet “news” groups are forums where “authors” can “publish articles” to be read by other users and subsequently discussed. Not much of what gets “published” could ever be considered “news” by any reasonable standard of measure, but the original term is still used today. Under normal circumstances a user would post a message to one or to a small number of relevant newsgroups, asking questions or airing opinions. By using software to automate the process of posting, it became possible to post the same message to thousands of newsgroups ensuring a readership in the hundreds of thousands or even millions.

The very first Spam email was sent on 1 May 1978 by a Digital Equipment Corp. sales rep advertising a computer equipment demonstration. An attempt was made to send this email to all of the Arpanet users on the west coast of the US. The reaction on the part of the recipients was not unlike what you may expect today. Remember that Arpanet was a military project and commercial use was not acceptable. At the time, there was no such thing as an email Spam filter to stop Spam mail because there was no Spam. In April 1994, the Phoenix law firm, Canter and Siegel, advertised their services by posting a message to several thousand newsgroups. This was probably the first automated large scale commercial use of Spam, and was the incident that popularized the term, which up until then had been exclusively part of the arcane vocabulary of Multi-User Dungeons.

4. Why do people send spam?

Spam is the electronic equivalent of junk mail. People send Spam in order to sell products and services or to promote an email scam. Some Spam is purely ideological, sent by purveyors of thought. The bulk of Spam is intended, however, to draw traffic to web sites or to sell sex and money making schemes. Unlike junk mail in your physical mailbox, Spam does not abait if it is unsuccessful. When marketing departments send junk mail at considerable expense, without success, they generally cease, or try a different sales pitch. Spam on the other hand can be entirely unsuccessful, but the large number of wannabe spammers waiting in the wings ensures that we will continue to receive lots of it.

Spammers go to considerable effort to thwart recipients’ attempts to stop spam email. They specifically design their emails to bypass your email spam filter.

5. How can I tell who the spam is from?

Normally you cannot. Spam control can become very sophisticated. More experienced users can look at the email “headers” to find the origin of the message but frequently the spammer will set up a one-time email account purely to initiate the spam email shot. When the email shot is finished, the account is closed. At other times, the spammer will forge headers making it difficult or impossible to trace the origin of the Spam, so finding the original sender will very often prove fruitless. Spam protection and junk email prevention require more subtle measures than just finding the culprit.

6. How do spammers get my email address?

Through many means. Some companies you may have had dealings with sell their mailing lists to third parties, spammers included. Spammers also use “robots” to scour the Internet and harvest any email addresses that they find. If you post to newsgroups you are also at risk of spammers picking up your email address and sending you junk email. To get adequate spam protection and get rid of Spam, you really need more than one email address. This is an essential element of proper Spam control.

7. If I unsubscribe won’t it get rid of spam?

If you didn’t have to subscribe to get it, there is little chance that unsubscribing will get rid of Spam. Professional spammers (something about those two words in the same phrase doesn’t seem right, but I digress…) use this trick to validate their email address list. They buy or steal lists sometimes containing millions of email addresses. Large percentages of these addresses may be invalid. By unsubscribing to the list, you are informing the spammer that your email address is a good one, and may be sold on to other spammers. Be prepared for more Spam, from many more sources. A better alternative would be to try blocking Spam, or to bounce Spam email using specialized email software.

8. Isn’t Spam illegal?

Clearly Spam is illegal if it promotes an illegal product or service. However, spam legislation is pending in the US and in Europe that would make the mere act of sending unsolicited commercial email illegal in the absence of an existing business relationship. The Coalition Against Unsolicited Commercial email (CAUCE) applauds the tough proposed European legislation, but opposes the proposed US anti spam legislation which it considers weak and ineffective at stopping spam. Bill S 630 would establish UCE as a legitimate practice. The onus would be upon the recipient to “opt out” of the mailing list by unsubscribing.

In the event of non-compliance on the part of the spammer, it would be up to the ISP to trace them and take action (most end-users lack the sophistication to trace an email back to a physical real-world company or individual). Fines of up to $10 per illegal Spam would be levied. The CAUCE argues that since the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is the only enforcing body, given the large number of Spam emails it is unlikely that any serious enforcement would ever take place. CAUCE takes the position that the recipient’s email resources are private property and likens UCE to placing advertising billboards on their property at no charge.

Proposed European legislation is much tougher and many believe it would help get rid of Spam. It will require prior consent from the recipient before receiving unsolicited commercial electronic communications including SMS, fax and email. The directive has already been published in the Official Journal of the Economic and Monetary Union and is expected to be implemented in member states by 31 October 2003.

9. How big of a problem is spam?

Big. Spam is a big problem first of all because it is symptomatic of inefficient, parasitical businesses. The Nobel Prize winning economist Ronald Coace in what is now known as the Coace Theorem postulated that an inefficient business (one that cannot bear the cost of its own activities) is dangerous to the economy, because to function, it must spread the cost of its activities across a large number of victims. The Coace Theorem cuts close to home where Spam is concerned. Any business that needs to send Spam emails to survive is not a viable business. The benefit to the spammer is disproportionate to the cost borne by the spammer, which is next to nil. More importantly, the cost of Spam removal to the victims is totally disproportionate to the benefit to the spammer. In a free market economy such a grossly inefficient process should cease when property rights are enforced (i.e. the cost is borne by the party who incurs them).

Spam is a big problem because property rights are difficult or impossible to enforce which makes it hard to get rid of Spam. From the 1800s through the mid 1960s industrials considered it their right to produce and pollute with impunity. The economy could not run without their products. They could not afford to not pollute. It took over two decades of lobbying to move government and industry to another point of view. Yet these were reasonable businesses, with physical assets in the countries of their victims and subject to their legal systems. Consider the spammers in contrast. Any physical assets they may have are irrelevant to their activity, which incidentally, has no borders. They are not subject to the legal systems of their victims. If they become subject to legislation attempting to stop Spam they can find a more favorable environment in another country. The immediate effect of the new European legislation will be to force the spammers offshore rather than to stop junk email. There will be less Spam coming from European countries, but there will not necessarily be any less Spam.

Spam is a big problem because of the shared resources it consumes. Internet Service Providers (ISPs) allow you to surf the Internet, and deliver your email to your email software usually for a flat monthly fee. They must, in turn, purchase bandwidth (the technical term for their own connection to the Internet). The more users they have, the more bandwidth they need. If they have very large numbers of users they may need to purchase additional servers to manage email. These costs are offset by the added revenues of a larger user base. Spam however, increases their need for bandwidth, and increases the load on their email servers with no added revenue to compensate. The added cost must be passed on to the customers, the victims of spammers trespassing on their private cyber property. Some very large email servers have been shut down due to Spam overload for extended periods depriving hundreds of thousands of paying customers of their emails. One leading ISP processes about 30 million email messages a day, 30% of which are Spam. The problem of Spam has reached proportions where it threatens the viability of email and of the Internet itself.

Spam is a big problem because of the private resources it consumes. Many business people spend up to fifteen minutes per day reading and deleting their Spam emails. A company with 100 knowledge workers earning an average of $40,000 per year each spending ten minutes per day deleting Spam would experience an added burden of $80,000 per year. This cost would be passed on to Internet users and non-users alike as they purchase products from this company at their local department store.

Spam is a big problem because of number of victims it involves. According to META Group, 5-15% of corporate email is Spam. This is expected to grow to to 15-30% in the near term. This means that the average medium-sized company receives 20,000 Spam emails per day. Taking the above example a little further, if 10 million people each lose 5 minutes a day deleting Spam, in terms of productivity, this could cost the global economy over $4 billion annually, not counting wasted bandwidth, CPU time and network administration time and tools. Based on these assumptions, the global cost of Spam may well be over $5 billion annually.

10. What are DNS blacklists?

DNS blacklists are lists of domains that are known to originate Spam. Many anti-spam software programs use these lists to control Spam by refusing any email that originates from one of these domains. DNS blacklists are usually maintained by anti-spam organizations or by individuals with an intense dislike for Spam. The difficulty with DNS blacklists is the need for objectivity in deciding when to blacklist a domain. In order to know that a domain is producing Spam, the offence must be reported.

Reporting Spam without any anti-abuse mechanism in place, however, leaves nothing to stop people from getting servers added to a DNS blacklist out of malice. The obvious solution would be to require a minimum number of reported incidents before blacklisting a server. This proves equally unsatisfactory however as a measure to stop Spam mail. Anyone who manages large mailing lists knows that a small percentage of people who subscribe subsequently accuse the sender of spamming them when they receive their email. Naturally, a company that sends out millions of legitimate commercial emails will receive more accusations of Spam than one that sends out a smaller amount of spam free bulk email.

12. How can I stop Spam email?

There are a number of things you can do to stop Spam email. Which ones suit you best will depend upon your needs, the type of email you generally receive, whether you have complete control over your email account, the number of legitimate correspondents you may have and how long you tend to keep them.

13. How does an email Spam filter work?

For most email users, using an email Spam filter to get rid of Spam is the only viable alternative to manually sifting through large numbers of junk email every day.

There are different kinds of filters:

User defined filters are included in most email clients today. With these filters you can forward email to different mailboxes depending on headers or contents. For example, you would put email from each of your friends into a mailbox named after them. You can also use these same filters to forward email to the trash if the origin or contents are suspicious. To do this you need to carefully look at any Spam emails you receive. Try to notice common characteristics, recurring patterns in senders’ email addresses, dubious claims in the subject line and so on. You will soon find that Spam filtering using a small number of rules can eliminate a large number of Spam emails.

Header filters are more sophisticated. They look at the email headers to see if they are forged. Email headers contain information in addition to the recipient, sender and subject fields displayed on your screen. They also contain information regarding the servers that were used in delivering your email (the relay chain). Many spammers do not want to be traced. They put false information in the email headers to prevent people from contacting them directly. Some anti spam programs can detect forged headers which are a sure indication that the email is Spam. Not all Spam has forged headers though, so this filter by itself is not sufficient.

Language filters simply filter out any email that is not in your native tongue. It only filters out foreign language Spam, which is not a major problem today, unless the foreign language in question is English. In future, languages other than English are expected to make up an increasingly large percentage of Internet communications. If you do not expect to get emails in another language, this may be a quick and easy way to eliminate some portion of your Spam.

Content filters scan the text of an email and use fuzzy logic to give a weighted opinion as to whether the email is Spam. They can be highly effective, but can also occasionally filter out newsletters and other bulk email that may appear to be Spam. This can usually be overridden by explicitly authorizing email from domains you subscribe to.

Permission filters block all email that does not come from an authorized source. Typically the first time you send an email to a person using a permission filter you will receive an auto-response inviting you to visit a web page and enter some information. Your email then becomes authorized and any future emails you send will be accepted. This is not suitable for all users, but very effective for those that choose to use it, as long as the auto-response email is not blocked by the Spam filter of the initial sender!

14. I want to send Spam free bulk email. How can I be sure my recipients won’t think I’m sending Spam?

Not all bulk email is Spam. Many responsible organizations send Spam free bulk email regularly to their customers, and subscribers. In efforts to stop Spam email, many recipients use specialised email software to block junk email, which has the undesired effect of filtering out legitimate Spam free bulk email. What is more frustrating to the email sender is to receive Spam reports from DNS blacklist holders stating that they are sending Spam when in fact they are sending legitimate Spam free bulk email. Many people subscribe to so many lists, they cannot remember what they subscribed to. If an email looks like Spam, they report it without taking a closer look to determine what it is.


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