While cleaning out my childhood bedroom last week I came across a letter. Not from an international pen pal or a secret admirer. From a Canadian flavoured sweet sparkling water company, Clearly Canadian.

I was a Clearly Canadian groupie. As a pre-teen I loved nothing more than opening up my Teen or YM magazine and calling the 1-800 numbers listed at the bottom of the ads on those colorful, glossy pages.

Remember Buf Puf? I remember Buf Puf conducted a jingle writing contest through Teen magazine.  I submitted an original Buf Puf song, and had a lot of fun writing it. I didn’t win the contest, but I won a free Buf Puf. I was the girl that read the backs of the shampoo bottles — and called the 1-800 number. “Dear Jergens, I love this new soap I just started using. No, I’m not having any problems, no allergic reactions, I just wanted to call and tell you.”

I wasn’t seeking coupons. I wasn’t looking for a hobby. I had friends. I genuinely wanted to form a relationship with these companies.  Give and take. I was clearly ahead of my time (hello, Twitter) and was looking for an instantaneous solution to interact with these brands.

Best thing about it, (remember these were the early 90’s,) they wrote me back. They sent me decals, letters of thanks from their customer service departments and they graciously thanked me for my interest in their product. Plain and simple. I was 10, and had no buying power. It was nothing more than an innocent consumer rendezvous.

Once the internet came about, I had no reason to call the back of shampoo bottles anymore. No real reason to inform the representative on the other end that my hair, was indeed, softer, more manageable. Now I could post my thoughts on a message board, or an emotionless company feedback form. It was the end of an era.  Nothing beat the excitement of dialing up my powerful (yet gentle) exfoliating face cream, my Monday morning cereal box or my lilac citrus air freshener, to make me feel like someone out there in the corporate world of consumer household products, was listening.

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