Royal Mail Breaks Outsized Push for Pricing in Proportion Program

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Britain's Royal Mail today begins an $18.4 million integrated marketing campaign to promote its Pricing in Proportion program.

The campaign, targeting both businesses and consumers, runs through Aug. 29 using television, interactive TV, print, direct mail, radio, outdoor and point of sale advertising. The effort is expected to touch every adult in Britain.

"We are undertaking our largest-ever marketing campaign to ensure that all of our customers know about the changes in the way we will charge for mail delivery," said Kathryn McNamara, senior brand and advertising manager at Royal Mail, London. "Through this far-reaching, integrated campaign, businesses of all sizes as well as our social customers will have been made aware of the changes before they come into effect on August 21."

Beginning Aug. 21, postage for mail weighing up to 1 kilogram will be based on size as well as weight so that prices better reflect the costs of collecting, sorting and delivering mail. In general, Pricing in Proportion will mean that mail is priced in three size formats: letters, large letters and packets.

Compact, heavy items generally will cost the same or less to send, Royal Mail said, while light but bulky items that are more difficult to process generally will cost more.

Though some prices will increase, more than 85 percent of all business mail will stay the same price or be cheaper to send. The changes will generate no further revenue for Royal Mail.

Covering All the Bases

The marketing campaign leaves nothing to chance. For example, it includes Britain's biggest door drop. Every British address, both business and consumer, will receive a Pricing in Proportion Size Guide, which is a folded instruction manual for working out new postage prices.

BBDO sibling Proximity London handled the creative. The television spots were created by AMV BBDO and are voiced by British actor Kevin Whately. They will run for six weeks across terrestrial and Sky TV, ITV1, five and Sky One. Radio ads, also voiced by Mr. Whately, will appear on regional and national stations including Virgin, Classic FM, Heart and Century 106.

The campaign also uses targeting of newspapers and magazines. For instance, to reach rural audiences, Royal Mail has placed 100 insertions across regional newspapers. To reach vulnerable audiences, ads will run in specialist titles like Disability Now. For ethnic audiences, ads have been bought in titles like Asian Times and Caribbean Times.

Other elements of the campaign include 5,200 six-sheet billboards that will appear across Britain and information packets soon to be available in all 14,300 Royal Mail post office branches.

Also, post office staff received training. Every counter will have a measurement template to demonstrate the new pricing system. Royal Mail even set up a microsite at www.royalmail.com/pip along with a dedicated help line to support the changes.

Earlier Efforts

This is not Royal Mail's first outreach for Pricing in Proportion.

In December, Royal Mail began a campaign to help businesses prepare for its new pricing system. Informational brochures were sent to 35,000 marketing services contacts, including direct marketing agencies, printing companies and mailing houses. The holiday mailings provided price and sizing information, plus advice on how companies can manage the new system.

Then, in January, business customers received detailed information together with a sizing template and pricing stickers so that they could compare current prices with those under Pricing in Proportion.

Last month, Royal Mail launched a campaign urging businesses in Britain to take advantage of a rebate that will be available when Pricing in Proportion is introduced.

The rebate is available to businesses that spend more than $183,000 on postage annually and expect their costs to rise more than 50 percent under the new system. A refund of 40 percent of the price increase will be available in the first year, and 20 percent in the second year.

Though most business mail will be the same price or cheaper, Royal Mail said it is doing everything it can to support customers with the small proportion of mail that will cost more.

To apply for the rebate, customers complete and return a Pricing in Proportion Mitigation application form by July 31. Forms have been mailed to Royal Mail customers that currently spend around $183,000 (100,000 pounds sterling) or more on postage annually.

Forms also are at www.royalmail.com/mitigation. The site features a mitigation calculator to help businesses calculate whether they qualify, with more information on Pricing in Proportion.

Finally, Royal Mail last month mailed 3 million small and midsize businesses in Britain brochures to help them prepare for Pricing in Proportion.

This effort explained that for many of the items that will cost more to send, customers can keep the costs down by folding certain items in half and posting them in a standard envelope. Mailers were urged to stock up on standard envelopes to ensure they benefit from the cost savings available to users of smaller envelopes.

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