Cashing In on a 30 Year Old Offer
This past November, my supervisor and I were looking through some old Rolling Stone magazines. Most of the issues dated back to the 1980s, and we were especially entertained by the old ads we came across. The more we read through these ads, the more we saw exclusive “mail-in” offers that would give you a free sample of the product advertised. The idea then came about that we should actually try to cash in on one of these offers, even though they were decades old. The only way that this would actually work is if the offer didn’t have an expiration date, and if the company was still at the same location. Although we knew it would be a difficult task, we felt that it could be done.
We scoured through ad after ad, looking for the perfect candidate. The more we searched, the more unlikely it appeared that we would actually find an offer that still existed. Only a few magazines remained at this point, and we trudged on in hopes that something would pop up. We picked up an issue from November of 1985 and, to our surprise, we found something. An advertisement for Blistex lip balm. The ad was so old that the company was still going by their previous name ‘Blistik’, and we knew this was exactly what we needed. All we had to do was mail in 50¢ and provide a return address, and a free sample of Blistex medicated lip balm was ours. There was no expiration date printed on the ad, and it appeared that we had finally found the loophole we were looking for.
I then began my letter to Blistex, explaining the situation. To make it feel as legit as possible, I made it seem like I genuinely thought the clearly out-dated offer was still standing. The letter read:
“To the Good Folks at Blistik,
Howdy! I hope today finds you well. I was recently going through the latest issue of Rolling Stone magazine and came across an advertisement for your new “creamier Blistik” medicated lip balm. And, to be truthful, it looked so darn creamy and dandy that I had to respond to your ad and get one for myself. Included in this envelope you will find the necessary 50¢ and my return address. I look forward to receiving my complimentary Blistik lip ointment, and with the winter months coming, my battered old lips surely will need it. Thank you for this opportunity, I will try to contain my jubilance in the meantime!
We sent the letter and 50¢ over to Blistex, along with a copy of the ad, and waited. A few weeks went by and I began to think that maybe they thought it was a prank of some sorts, and weren’t interested in fulfilling the offer. That was until early last month, when I received a package from them in the mail.
To my surprise, the package contained a complimentary medicated lip balm. Not only that, but I also received a letter from the company’s consumer affairs department:
We would like to thank you for your interest in Blistex and taking the time to contact us about an old advertisement you saw in a Rolling Stone magazine about a free trial offer. This offer has been discontinued for quite some time and we have discontinued our sampling program. However, in response to your letter, and taking out the time to contact us, we have enclosed a complimentary tube of Medicated Lip Ointment. We trust that this product will meet with your expectation.
If we can be of any further assistance, please feel free to contact us directly.
Not only were they good sports about the whole thing, but they actually fulfilled their 30 year old offer! So, the moral of the story is this. First, shouts to the good folks at Blistex. And, second, if you have any old magazines lying around, definitely take a look through them. You never know what offers are still out there just waiting to be cashed in.
by Ben Pinette