Scott wrote:Perhaps Mel was a fictional character
Yes, that's correct. Mel isn't a real person. It was a publicity stunt by a gear manufacturer and meant to be funny. If you go back and read through the thread, you can see who (eventually) got it and who didn't (it took most of us a little while to figure out; Biglost gave it away, but his post doesn't exist anymore). Most of the post in this thread were actually posted in jest. Some were even in on it.
If you read the thread with all this in mind, it might give you a different perspective and maybe even give you a few laughs. I wasn't sure if you knew the story or not, thus my comment.
Anyway, here is another similar stunt, same time period:
After clicking on "English", check out the slogan on the right:
I think most of knew that it was a gag (and went along with it and enjoyed it), but many (including myself) did not know it was perpetrated by a gear manufacturer (one who definitely had a sense of humor).