Prep Work Prevents Mistaken Identity for White Powder Sampler

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Direct mail sampling campaigns by Orange Glo International for OxiClean, a white powder laundry cleaner, have moved smoothly through the mail stream -- unlike some similar substances -- thanks to plenty of advance notice and communication among the U.S. Postal Service, its workers and Orange Glo, the company said.


Orange Glo's latest mailing of sample packets began late last month, just before an Associated Press report that fears of suspicious powders in packages and envelopes have disrupted mail service 20,000 times since the anthrax attacks in 2001. Innocuous substances that caused interruptions include powdered Alfredo sauce, pudding mix and coffee creamer.


"We make sure we are really upfront with [the postal service]," said Kierie Courtney, direct operations manager at Orange Glo, Greenwood Village, CO, a household products company. "Because of the nature of sending cleaning products through the mail, we would never want there to be any surprise in the postal service about what we are sending. If some of the postal equipment were to slice [the mail pieces] open, we didn't want to bring their operations to a halt or cause any operational problems."


Last month's mailing is the latest in a series of sampling campaigns, Courtney said, all of which have involved detailed communication with the USPS before sending anything through the mail.


For example, as part of all its sampling campaigns, "through our fulfillment quality process, we put together an actual production prototype of what we are actually going to be sending," she said, "and we physically take that to the post office for confirmation and to get their approval on what we are going to be mailing."


The mailer includes a one-ounce sample of OxiClean and a coupon redeemable at retail outlets. The sample is shipped in customized packaging that Orange Glo developed with its fulfillment company. It is sent to consumers who register with the company at www.oxiclean.com. If they send five friends to the site to register, consumers can receive a coupon for a free full-size container of OxiClean.


Since the packages go to people who requested them, there have been no complaints from consumers worried that they received anthrax or other hazardous materials, Courtney said.


Courtney said OxiClean will continue these types of mailings.


"Samples are a good thing because when people try OxiClean, they love it and want to buy it and use it," she said. "We are very pleased with the response and the interest we've had [with sending] samples of OxiClean."


The USPS warned employees about Orange Glo's mailer in several ways. In its e-mail and online employee newsletter, it wrote: "Heads Up. Samples of the powdered cleaner [OxiClean] could be headed to your postal facility. [OxiClean] will mail 75,000 product samples to customers through March. An initial mailing of 20,000 went out Feb. 18. The [OxiClean] mail piece is a white flat, approximately 6 1/2 by 8 inches, sent Standard Mail from Colorado Springs, CO."


In addition, a postal memo distributed Feb. 25 told employees that USPS managers must deliver a talk explaining the OxiClean mailing to its employees. The memo said the message was being sent to alert facilities of this mailing "and avoid undue stress for our employees and disruption of service should one of these packages be damaged or broken."


Besides the memo, managers also were given a picture of the mail piece and were told to show it when giving the talk.


Even before 9/11 and the anthrax scare, "we've always been conscientious about working with the postal service on specifically what we are mailing," Courtney said.


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