GDPR Technology

Exploring the 9 circles of GDPR email hell


By John McCarthy, Opinion editor

May 25, 2018 | 6 min read

The GDPR is upon us. Once mighty brands are now ejaculating a final flurry of emails into your inbox as either Rome, or taxman Herod’s database of families with children, burns. Opinion varies.

The GDPR circles of hell

The GDPR circles of hell

Europe’s scheme to protect web user data, hair-brained as it may seem, means that brands must show their data has been obtained lawfully. Cue wistfully frenzy, the impending panic has occured. Some publishers have just closed up shop in Europe.

All is not lost: marketers are fighting the fire. They believe one successful email can resurrect a razed relationship. As a result, brands are grasping greedily for consumers in a crazed, cultish and incestuous manner, perhaps unaware that this is the behaviour that necessitated GDPR in the first place. They now need your consent and they are leveraging every manipulative tactic in their arsenal to get it.

Data shows* (*probably, I accidentally unsubscribed from data) that over the last month, every single email address in existence has been besieged by emails. They are skirting your safe place like a murderous vampire currying favour to gain access to your house, laden with a sharp toothy grin.

We have been swayed, swooned, swarmed and swamped with emails, isn’t it funny that a law designed to limit intrusive emails has had the opposite effect? It’s comparable to a cheat day buffet at a fat camp.

There are disagreements around what GDPR stands for. Some say it is the General Data Protection Regulation. Meanwhile a hackneyed ‘thoughtleader’ is drafting a feature entitled ‘GDPR means a reliance on G(oo)D PR’ - or something. For me, it means God Damn Privacy Rocks.

Like a jilted lover or a discarded ex, these abandoned brands (abrandoned?) have played their hand. We’re in the third act of a romcom and they’ve chased us to the airport to stop us from flying to a far-away clime.

‘Stop, I love you, I have always loved you, stay.’ They say.

The problem is, they are the creepy neighbour, not the love interest. We’ve brought out the worst in them. An industry built professing love, family and community with consumers sits upon much more unstable foundations. They’ve been jabbing us with commercial prompts once a day for years, it has been a laboured relationship and we’re beginning to feel guilty that we’ve been faking it , feigning enthusiasm like the attendees of a death row disco.

After taking a quick browse through my inbox. I’d given my data to a chip shop for wifi, a go kart company for insurance, a risqué clothing store for a Valentine’s Gift - even a pornsite sends me prompts to revisit – they think their email is the Pavlov’s bell I am responding too. These are micro activities you’ve long forgotten but they have helped build spam empires – you may not have been aware you were doing that at the time, but you are now.

From the ashes comes a new world order, one where marketers suddenly respect consumers. That is the hope.

The reality is that they will likely find a new means of persuasion that won’t be properly regulated for another decade. Like the inside of your eyelids or on toilet paper.

Dante’s Inferno posits that there are nine circles of hell, as a mere footnote on that irreplaceable piece of literature, I suggest there are nine circles of GDPR hell.


Nothing ropes a consumer in like a real banger of a tune. Email subject lines have been jazzed up with lyrics like the MSN Messenger handles once championed by the now deteriorating millennial.


Friends and family

You logged into a wifi once at a shop that exclusively sells right-footed flip flops - it now thinks it has an unbreakable bond of kin with you. The below reveries read like an induction into the Manson family.

GDPR family


Consumerism is built upon the exchange of goods and bartering, so it is nice to see brands have taken that one step further by sending one final discount to departing readers.



Dad jokes are as dated as the carrier pigeon – although the notion of an avian familiar embarking on a vast journey to deliver an anticlimactic, pun-laden message retains a degree of humour.


You will upset someone

Jeremy Corbyn and Zoe are very concerned about GDPR. They want your deets. According to the latest polls, Zoe is the most concerned, despite this the GDPRty remains behind Corbyn.


Not mentioning GDPR

GDPR is mind-boggling, some brands don't bother even trying to explain it. Maybe they have the right idea. Jeremy makes a second appearance.

No mention

Self-aware bro

Listen dude, just chill. We know this is like, annoying, but hey, we gonna do what we gonna do. So like, irony yeah?

We know

We care about your privacy

There are brands have always cared about your privacy. They really, really do care. So they've sent you an unsolicited email to make you aware of that.


Desperate lunacy

What, just what are you doing here? What difference does it make if the 9,872nd GDPR email in my inbox is slightly cooky?


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