USPS adds ZIP to Saks' shoe shopping

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Not since 90210 has a ZIP Code carried such an added meaning.

In what has to be the first branding campaign created around a postal code, Saks Fifth Avenue and the US Postal Service announced that the retailer's new eighth-floor shoe salon at its landmark New York store is now known as "10022-SHOE."

"They came to us with the idea and we went back and forth because it's not a real Zip Code - it's really a marketing idea," explained Rod DeVar, USPS national manager of advertising and promotions. "This is clearly a one-off for us right now, but we're going to watch it and see how it goes for Saks."

Saks is using 10022-SHOE as part of a multi-channel advertising program that includes direct mail and customized postage. The goal is to drive home the message that the new shoe salon, which covers an entire floor, is so big that it needs its own ZIP Code.

Saks is calling 10022-SHOE New York's most prestigious shoe-shopping experience. The newly redesigned department features its own express elevator, a private VIP room, expert repair service and collections from some of the leading fashion footwear brands, including Burberry, Fendi, Givenchy and Salvatore Ferragamo. Among the new collections at the store are Gianvito Rossi, Brian Atwood and Sergio Rossi.

Saks customers visiting the department at 611 Fifth Avenue, in midtown Manhattan, will be able to mark the occasion by sending postcards with branded, customized postage designs produced by Saks, which feature artwork from a dozen top shoe designers.

Postal Service-licensed vendor Stamps.com is providing the customized postage for Saks, though DeVar stresses that the additional four letters in the ZIP Code are not required for delivery of mail to the address. The customized postage contains both a customer-supplied image and a state-of-the-art bar code that is compatible with the Postal Service's automated mail processing systems.

"This is the first time someone has come to us with this kind of thing," DeVar said. "You never say never, but we have no plans to do this with anybody else." While Saks did not return calls asking for comment, DeVar said he expects the marketing campaign should run at least through the holidays.

Even though it's a government agency, he said, the USPS realizes it's in a competitive market, and as a result, it is always looking for ideas to help companies both grow their brands and build their businesses.

"As people come to us with ideas, we're going to listen to them to see if they make sense for both parties, and make decisions from there," he added.

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