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Why Being CTIA Compliant Is A Must – The Papa Johns Example

In a world dominated by mobile strategy, few things are as sacred as CTIA compliance on your text message campaigns. The compliance laws are often updated and if your text marketing provider isn’t keeping up your company can end up with heavy fines.

CTIA Compliance Strategy Disaster

The mobile marketing world made national headlines on November 13th when a US District Court Judge certified a nation wide class action suit against the Papa Johns pizza chain for SMS spam marketing. The lawsuit alleges that Papa Johns used its existing customer database (numbers that were kept on file for pizza delivery) to send over 500,000 spam text messages. The law firm representing the plaintiffs is asking for $500 per message which tallies up to $250 million dollars.

How did this marketing campaign lead to such a disastrous end? The short answer is that their mobile marketing partner wasn’t CTIA compliant and broke the following cardinal rules of SMS marketing.


Users must opt in to your program for you to legally send them SMS messages.

You cannot buy a number list from another company. You also cannot convert a customer database that was generated for other purposes into your SMS marketing. This was the case for Papa Johns. Just because you have access to customers numbers doesn’t mean that you can legally use them.


Users must be given the chance to stop receiving messages at any time.

A CTIA compliant SMS message will always give you the option to reply STOP to end all messages. Anything less is an invasion of your mobile phone and privacy. In the case of Papa Johns the customer never opted in to a program and had no option to opt out of receiving these offers.


Keep message frequency to a minimum and never text between the hours of 8pm and 8am.

The frequency in which you can text your opted in customers varies by the short code. For something as simple as sending marketing ads to customers best practices are about 1 to 3 messages per month. Its also illegal to send SMS marketing messages between the hours of 8pm and 8am in most states. In the case of Papa Johns their customers were receiving multiple messages per day, sometimes even several in the middle of the night.

SMS is still the best and most cost effective way to interact with your customers to build revenue and customer loyalty. Just make sure your SMS provider is CTIA compliant or your company could end up with a huge lawsuit or heavy fines.

Best Practices, compliance, MMA

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