Bereaved backlash over Jawbone marketing emails

Wearables manufacturer Jawbone has been accused of being “insensitive” after it sent marketing emails to bereaved consumers with the subject line “RE: Your Dad”.

The email was intended as an attention-grabbing way to promote its products as Father’s Day gifts, but saw the San Francisco-based firm face a backlash on Twitter for “distressing” people whose fathers had died.

Thousands of emails were sent, with one recipient saying that they had suffered a panic attack because of it.

Jawbone has not responded to the criticism on social media.

Meanwhile, the company has also been widely reported in the press as seeking buyers for its speaker business, which launched in 2010.

According to Fortune magazine’s website, co-founder and chairman Alex Asseily had suggested that selling its non-wearable business would be “painful” but prudent.

Mr Asseily was reported as saying: “Over the last year, we’ve come to terms with the fact that our future value is focused on wellness. Audio is great, and I think our audio products, particularly Jambox, are sexier. But it’s not as big a market.”

Jawbone chief executive Hosain Rahman recently released a statement on the company website saying the reports were “unequivocally false”.

The statement said: “There have been a few incorrect media reports that Jawbone is exiting the wearables business or going out of business altogether. These reports are unequivocally false. This speculation appears to emanate from wrongful insinuations made in a blog post in which the particular digital publication has since made a “Correction.” Jawbone was not contacted on the specific insinuations prior to the post and other media picked them up before the digital publication posted a correction, further spreading this false information.

“Jawbone remains wholly committed to innovating in and building great wearables products. We have never been more excited about our pipeline of technology and products and look forward to sharing them with the world when ready.”

In November, Jawbone laid off 15 per cent of its global workforce and is reported as struggling to gain market share against wearable competitors such as Fitbit, Xiaomi and Apple.