*Draft Helps Put Stamp of Approval on Campaign

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Stamps.com's new "Simply Easier" integrated advertising campaign launched this week with a one-two direct marketing punch that includes both a direct response TV spot and a direct mail piece via its new agency of record, DraftWorldwide.


The campaign, which targets small office/home office business owners in five U.S. cities, features actor Nathan Lane in a 60-second voice-over spot describing the ease of use of online postage provider Stamps.com, Santa Monica, CA, and encourages viewers to go to a unique URL, www.getstamps.com, for a free one-month trial and $20 in free postage.


The new spot, which is appearing on cable and local network affiliates in Atlanta, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and Seattle, combines brand building and direct response advertising, according to Kristi VandenBosch, executive vice president and managing director at Draft. The use of the unique URL rather than its main Web address, www.stamps.com, will allow Draft to specifically track response to the TV promotion.


"It helps us get a bead on how well TV is performing vs. some of our other tactics," VandenBosch said, though she acknowledged that some consumers might still arrive through the Stamps.com URL. "Our destination is our name, so you can't expect consumers to completely disconnect from that."


Even though the campaign is targeted more toward business owners, a certain amount of individual consumers will be netted in the process.


Layered atop the TV effort is a direct mail package that was mailed to 1 million Stamps.com prospects nationally, with a heavy concentration on the five targeted cities. Two versions of the tri-fold piece were mailed: one generic and one city-specific to names obtained through a variety of list sources, including compiled small office/home office lists and office supply purchaser lists.


"TV is good for air coverage to get the message out overall," VandenBosch said. With a coordinated mailing to follow the television spots, "you have a lot of targeting benefit to small business owners."


The mailers point users to a unique URL, www.stamps.com/easy, with city-specific versions featuring customized skylines outlined in red above the company logo, as well as coordinating messages on the outside of the package, such as "Seattle, you're just minutes from experiencing the ease of printing postage from your printer!" Inside, the piece explains the service and encourages use with the same monetary incentive offered through the TV spot.


Draft, Chicago, is in the midst of opening a new office in Santa Monica, CA, to service the Stamps.com account alongside the marketer's online direct agency, Direct Partners, also in Santa Monica. The new office officially opens its doors March 1. Direct Partners handles banner advertising and outbound e-mail marketing, while Draft handles all offline direct marketing. Draft won the account in January from Wieden & Kennedy, Portland, OR, which had developed TV spots last year featuring comedian Bob Newhart as fictional businessman Frank Mettman Jr., as well as print and radio ads.


Four-year-old Stamps.com is one of only two companies approved by the U.S. Postal Service to sell postage online and the only one that can do so without additional hardware or equipment.


Stamps.com also announced yesterday it sold a $30 million minority stake in EncrypTix, its ticketing encryption technology, to a group of investors that includes Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft, whose Vulcan Ventures Inc. led the financing. Other investors include American Express Travel Related Services Co., Mail Boxes Etc. USA Inc., Tickets.com Inc., GetThere.com Inc., Loews Cineplex Entertainment Corp. and Sabre Inc. EncrypTix is Stamps.com's bid to become a major player in home ticketing. Currently, almost all tickets ordered over the Web or by telephone still need to be mailed or picked up by consumers; secure home ticketing technology would eliminate that extra step.


Draft is coordinating a Stamps.com retail sales promotion with CompUSA in the five targeted cities, as well as a sweepstakes in the New York and Los Angeles markets.


"We layered every possible tactic that is successful at driving traffic," VandenBosch said.
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