Media watchdog GLAAD has been making some intriguing business arrangements.

A source tells us that the DC-based non-profit either sold or gave Genre a list of their donors. Genre, in turn, used that list to send out free copies of the recently revamped gay glossy. Those unrequested issues are then tallied as part of the magazine’s subscription data, thus boosting the monthly’s standing with potential advertisers. Sneaky, huh?

At first we didn’t believe this tale, but a Genre sales employee confirmed the rumors, but didn’t seem to know whether GLAAD took money for the list or if they shared it out of the goodness of their homo hearts. Said this employee, whom we’ve decided to call Informative Irwin: “I don’t know if they purchased it or if they just gave it to us.” Right

Before we move on with this, here’s more of the conversation between our editor and old Irwin:

AB: So, GLAAD gave Genre the list and Genre was using that list to mail out magazines to GLAAD supporters?

II: Right.

AB: But you don’t know what sort of trade there was?

II: No.

AB: And those magazines that go out – when you release your numbers to investors or advertisers, those count as subscribers?

II: Right, because then they get a chance to opt-out on it.

These surprised subscribers have the option to then call Genre and ask to be removed from their list. Apparently loads of straight people, lesbians and grannies have been flooding their offices with angry pleads.

Hungry for more information, we approached Genre publisher William Kapfer, who offered a more shady and ultimately protective answer, telling us that the company uses a lists broker. He also points fingers at another publishing company, but makes sure to testify to the methods effectiveness:

To be successful with any direct marketing campaign it is important to first recognize who your clients are in order to target them effectively. We leave those details to the professionals. We have used a “list rental” approach on a few occasions over the years–when launching a new campaign or wanting to sample consumer opinion on a certain topic, such as “boxers or briefs?”

We will send out a few hundred copies to a target audience–always including multiple “opt-out” opportunities. We include a full-page, cover-wrap “opt-out” on all copies–to keep it clear for the subscriber. I received both Conde Nast Portfolio and Absolute at my apartment, the same way–and am still reading them.

Not anymore, Absolute folded.

So, obviously all magazines use list brokers to grab new readers. That doesn’t seem unethical, right? What does seem unethical, however, is that GLAAD used its donor list to help a magazine – or possibly many magazines – sell their product. Our original calls to GLAAD garnered no results. Of the three communications people we spoke with, none could properly communicate how Genre received their donor list. We’ve been bugging them all day and finally got this lackluster response from GLAAD Senior Director of Communications Marc McCarthy, “We sometimes share the names of members who have allowed their information to be made available via the list serve organizations we have under contract.”

We wonder if GLAAD tells their members exactly which companies will be contacting them. Considering all the angry calls into the Genre office, we doubt it.

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