5/10/2007

Before Dot Com, There Was 1-800



To be a player in the competitive world of free enterprise, a company needs to reach out and be recognized. It is not enough to have a product that the public wants, they have to know where to find it. Thusly, a smart company needs to establish a presence with a web site.

Nearly every commercial on your television or radio, the ads in magazines, and the mailings addressed to "resident," place as much emphasis on their web pages as their postal information. Chances are, if we are at all interested in their products or services, we will visit their cyber sites.

But before the internet, there were the 1-800 phone numbers. The youngest out there, those weaned on a keyboard, might be aware of 1-800 numbers, but will not know of their importance way back when. The private homes and businesses were not wired with fiber optics. There certainly weren't PCs in the private sector.

Not having the luxury of almost unlimited characters as found in an internet address, advertisers had only seven spaces to use. Providing their desired numbers were available, the advertisers had to be creative. They had to be original and catchy with the spaces after the 800. They wanted to make sure that we the potential customers, could remember the number. Many added lyrics for us to sing along, hoping if we remembered the lyrics we would know the number.

Sometimes the numbers were obvious as to the nature of the business related to the number. Sometimes they were less obvious, and sometimes they were quite cryptic.
The number, 1-800-FURNISH was suggestive of a furniture store! If you were interested in a mortgage, 1-800-THEBANK, seemed the right number to call. If you had a tooth ache you could call 1-800-DENTIST. Making weekend plans, 1-800-WEATHER made it helpful to find out if rain was forecast.

Calling 1800-FORCAST however, gave no weather information. That number would be answered by the owner of a fishing supply shop. You might have wondered if you were calling an insult line instead of a glue company when you dialed 1-800-STICKIT. If two people were making calls to the same number, one who is looking for beer and the other wanting flowers, who called the right place at 1-800-BUDFORU? Actually both were wrong, as this number connected you with a youth organization looking for adults to be buddies with orphan kids for a day.

Also confusing was 1-800-NOSEJOB, especially for those wanting plastic surgery. But if you had allergies or nasal problems, this was the number you wanted. Suppose you wanted advice on how to get ahead at your job, would you be leery before you dialed 1-800-KISSASS? Does 1-800-GETDOWN sound like a number for dance lessons? I suppose if you wanted directions, 1-800-THATWAY sounds like a good one to try. I wonder, is 1-800-DOGGONE for animal control?

Other numbers appeared a little dubious at best. Are they what they appear? Or are they just attention getters? You would call 1-800-BOYTOYS if you wanted a male escort. But would a man needing a date feel comfortable dialing 1-800-4LOSERS? Well, if he did he would be disappointed, because that number was a Lost and Found at a department store. What woman, or restaurant for that matter, in need of silverware would call 1-800-FORKYOU?

Let us try a couple just for laughs. Dials 1-800-BIGONES ... "Hello, you have reached Naughty at Night, with the largest selection of adult films in town." (Click!)

No surprise there, I guess. How about 1-800-SEXTOGO? ... "Hello, welcome to Tickle your Fantasy, purveyors of quality marital aids." (Click!)

I don't think I will try this last one, 1-800-GETSGAS. Feel free on your own to find out if it is a gas station or a beanery!

1-800-GOODBYE! (Click!)

No.27

1 comment:

Serena Joy said...

Fun (and funny) stuff, Mike. I'm thinking about getting my own 800 number - 1-800-BITEME. Or maybe that ought to be a 900 number? LOL.