Since I work in the ad industry, I know this wasn’t a faceless backroom operation.
Someone high up at my bank had the idea to send out unsolicited CheckCards. Someone thought the PINs should be disclosed. Someone had to write and proofread the DM letters. Someone had to cross-check the customer database. Someone had to coordinate the printing, the mailing, etc. Dozens of people had a hand in approving this marketing clusterfuck, starting with the client. And no one seemed to think it was a bad idea.
While this week, advertising blogs are debating the relative offensiveness of religious symbols in advertising, I believe what National City Bank pulled, and what other marketers do with consumer data has more far reaching–and potentially criminal–implications. It’s just less sexy than the military rappelling onto the roof of a mosque.