The American Express Mess
(I found a vintage “Do you know me?” commercial on YouTube.com and have included a hyperlink below. You’ll love it!)
At some point I traded up to a Gold Card—which was introduced in 1964—I guess for the prestige of the thing. Then in 1984, American Express introduced the Platinum Card with the most spectacular mass mailing I have every seen. Every element was individually hand fed into the same IBM Selectric typewriter so that the type would be identical on each piece, causing the prospect to believe it came directly from the office of the president of the division and was hand-typed by his secretary. (See the image below for a complete description of that mailing.)
That was a time when my wife, Peggy, and I were taking some fairly exotic trips to wilds in such places as Africa, Anatolia, Belize. One of the selling points of the Platinum Card was the promise that if you needed serious medical attention anywhere in the world and you could not get to a good hospital, American Express would come after you in the wilds and bring you back to civilization—with no charge for special excursions into the bush, helicopters, private jets and ambulances. Platinum Cards also got us into certain airline lounges for free—Northwest and, as I recall, Continental. From the June 1990 issue of my newsletter, Who’s Mailing What!:
After three years of blandishments to spend $300, I decided to turn in my America Express Gold Card and step up to Platinum to see how American Express treats its highrollers.
In the ensuing weeks I received a splendid array of mailings: the Platinum Card itself ... a welcome package listing the various services ... an offer to make me a Hertz Rent-a-Car Gold customer for free (regular cost: $50) ... a list of private clubs around the world where I am welcome ... a $10,000 line of credit, including a book of checks from AmEx’s Centurion Bank. Every mailing was a masterpiece of elegance and personalization. I was made to feel part of a very exclusive network of high-powered travelers.