Originally set up as a public relations agency, Inter-Mediates specialised in the promotion of computer games. In 1985, Tony Rainbird contacted the company to handle the PR for the launch of the Rainbird publishing label, having known co-owner Dave Carlos from his stint as editor of Home Computing Weekly. The Rainbird launch was handled by Dave’s business partner, Mike Baxter who was based in Brighton at the time.
A year later, and TelecomSoft had recently moved offices to New Oxford Street. As part of the Firebird budget range’s re-branding (becoming the £1.99 Silver Range) and as a way of encouraging brand loyalty amongst customers, someone (possibly Herbie Wright) had suggested the creation of a club that customers could join. Unfortunately, nobody had the time to work out what to do with it, so Dave Carlos volunteered Inter-Mediates to run the club on TelecomSoft’s behalf. TelecomSoft didn’t really have to think about it for too long, as 120 cheques had already arrived in the post thanks to the new Firebird Silver games advertising the club inside an initial 25,000 printed inlays:
Have you joined the IN-CROWD? Are you a
member of the SILVER CLUB? If not, then
we in the SILVER CLUB would love to hear
To become a member, just send a cheque or
postal order for £1.99 made payable to
FIREBIRD SOFTWARE, along with your
name, address, age and the type of
computer you have to the address below,
clearly marking the envelope ‘SILVER CLUB’
and we’ll send you a bumper pack of goodies
AN EXCLUSIVE MEMBERSHIP No.
YOUR OWN MEMBERSHIP CARD
Dave Carlos expected the Silver Club to be a small part of the work Inter-Mediates produced for TelecomSoft, yet it quickly exceeded the initial expectation of maybe a few thousand members and (in Dave’s own words) “grew into a monster”.
The A4 newsletter typically consisted of four double-sided pages. The first page was in colour, to accommodate the Silver Club logo (above). The content included news of new releases, competitions, high scores, pen pals, letters, members cage, interviews, special offers and mail order information.
The Silver Club newsletter was sent out approximately every 2-3 months. It's currently unknown exactly how many issues of the newsletter were produced in total, although it's believed that it wasn't more than seven or eight. Club membership was at 10,000 by the fourth issue and at it's peak there were over 30,000! Some example issues of the newsletter are available from the downloads section.
Members could get 25% off Silverbird purchases (approximately 50p off a £1.99 budget game), and at various times other special offers came their way. For example, one offer gave members five randomly selected titles from the Firebird Silver £1.99 range back catalogue for the princely sum of £2.50!
One thing not mentioned in the official promotional info was that the Silver Club was an annual subscription, costing another £1.99 to renew for another year. In the end, the Club proved to be far too successful. The running costs far exceeded the membership fees, so it was decided to close the club down.
A big thanks must go to Alex Buckley for providing original copies of the 3rd and 4th issues of the newsletter, John Edwards for scanning issues 2 and 5, Richard Dare for scanning issues 6 and 7, im Langmead for the various badge scans and anecdotes, and a big thanks to Dave Carlos for remembering!!
Visit the Downloads page to grab some example issues of the Silver Club newsletter.
The newsletter had a deliberate 'home made' look to it, and was originally written by Dave Carlos on a BBC Micro using Mirrorsoft's Fleet Street Editor.
As the club's success grew, Dave handed the newsletter over to his own team at Inter-Mediates so he could get back to running the PR agency side.
Near the end, the writing duties were picked up by Graeme Kidd, who had recently left Newsfield after being Editor of Crash! Magazine.