USPS Readies Campaign for Overseas Service

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Despite the agency's budget woes, the U.S. Postal Service will begin launching a direct mail and print advertising campaign July 5 to promote its Priority Mail Global Guaranteed service.

The service is based on an alliance the USPS formed with DHL Worldwide Express Inc., Redwood City, CA, and was introduced on April 12. It offers two-day delivery service to Western Europe for documents weighing up to 70 pounds, and is the first overseas service offered by the USPS to bypass competing foreign postal administrations.

The service is targeted to small and home-based businesses and is currently available in 11 metropolitan markets based on historical volume numbers for USPS' International Express Mail product.

The campaign, created by Foote Cone & Belding, New York, will be targeted to small businesses in areas where the service is available, and will include print ads in about 20 regional business publications across the country such as the regional edition of Wall Street Journal in Boston, the Charlotte (NC) Business Journal and the Houston Business Journal. A direct mail campaign also will be launched in late July and will include 160,000 direct mail pieces to small businesses that have 50 employees or less.

A media campaign was reportedly going to begin in April, but the USPS postponed it because both groups were not prepared.

According to Jerry McKiernan, a spokesperson for the USPS' expedited/service division, the PMGG is unique because it's only available in certain major markets.

The USPS has also launched a business-to-business direct mail campaign for its Delivery Confirmation service this month. It dropped 500,000 direct mail pieces to small businesses at a cost of over $250,000. The USPS could not reveal the costs of the PMGG campaign at deadline, but said the campaign is smaller and more scaled back than the Delivery Confirmation campaign.

According to sources, the launch of these campaigns shows that the USPS is clearly supporting the DHL alliance -- and the expedited/package services division in general -- especially since USPS announced in late April that it is cutting its marketing budget back by $50 million and reviewing its five-year contracts with its advertising agencies including Young & Rubicam, New York; Draft Worldwide, Chicago; and FCB. The cut backs are part of the $800 million in spending that the USPS wants to cut right now.

Meanwhile, executives from DHL and the USPS met earlier this month to open discussions about expanding their alliance. While the USPS would not comment on the negotiations, it is widely believed that the parties may increase the number of cities where PMGG is available and may add new products. The USPS said it hopes to eventually expand the service to parcels, but no dates have been set.

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