Living as I do, not too far from the middle of nowhere, the arrival of the mail, courtesy of our wonderful postwoman, is one of the day’s highlights. However, despite the anticipation, it’s usually pretty predictable: circulars urging me to enrol on a distance learning accountancy course (moi?); solar panel, double glazing and patio promotional flyers, and the inevitable bills. But today there was something different. A hand-written envelope addressed to me – even including the initial of my middle name – all the way from Santa Ana in sunny California. So, probably from someone who knew me well but I couldn’t quite place the writing.
And inside the envelope, a full-page newspaper article extolling the virtues of a product called Immuderm. Across the top of the page, someone had written my first name, followed by the words ‘Get this, It works, J’
But I don’t know a J in Santa Ana, or anywhere else in California come to that.
So what is this Immuderm? Well, according to the article, it’s yet another miracle cure for wrinkles. (I know, I know.) Thankfully, even though the big 60 is beckoning, I’ve never been too worried about wrinkles – bring ‘em on I say. The sign of a life lived.
But it did set me wondering about Immuderm (which, not surprisingly, turns out to be the usual motley collection of chemicals - with a few ‘natural’ ingredients chucked in for good measure) and its sales methods. A quick Google search gave me the answers. And thanks to helpful postings on someone else’s blog, http://greencolander.blogspot.com/2005/12/mystery-letter.html I found out the facts behind Immuderm’s marketing tactics.
Well, quelle surprise, it turns out that this is a well-worn direct mail ploy. Immuderm ‘articles’ and ‘handwritten’ notes have been turning up in mailboxes across the USA and Canada and are now unsettling little old ladies in the UK. I had visions of hundreds of impoverished Mexican immigrants, cooped up in sweatshop sheds painstakingly copying endless lists of names and addresses, although that personal handwritten touch is allegedly courtesy of a machine.
So thanks Immuderm but no thanks; I’ll stick with the laughter lines, ignore the ads and keep reading the blogs instead. Knowledge, as they say, is power.