Advo Brings Shared Mail to Puerto Rico

Mail marketer Advo, Windsor, CT, has made its cooperative mail program available in Puerto Rico as part of the Advo National Network Extension, a network of regional shared mail companies that will allow advertisers to use cooperative or shared mail in specific areas for the first time.

The development of ANNE in late 1996 and its extension into Puerto Rico were driven by the desire of clients to reach households outside the 160 markets Advo serves. The low volume of advertising mail received by Puerto Rican households — less than 10 pieces per month — made the island an attractive target.

“Mail is not highly developed and refined, and we just felt there was a real strong need and place in the market we could carve out,” said Gregg Dittoe, vice president of national network development at Advo.

Puerto Rico is served by the U.S. Postal Service, yet presents a number of obstacles not faced by mailers in the United States. The USPS had never built a certified resident mailing list for Puerto Rico, which forced Advo to work with outside companies to create a deliverable list that conformed with the island's four-line address scheme. Dittoe cited a lack of lists as the biggest inhibitor to U.S. mailers.

Shipping ad copy to Puerto Rico typically takes six to nine days, forcing clients that elect not to print in Puerto Rico with Advo partner Ramallo Brothers Printing to prepare inserts well in advance of normal printing schedules. Since most of the Puerto Rican population reads in Spanish, translation of ad copy adds another production step.

Like Advo's other ANNE partners, Ramallo Brothers will handle the program using the newly generated lists of resident addresses in targeted distribution areas. Starting Sept. 16, 315,000 households will begin receiving weekly advertising packages under the Mail Express brand name. Sears, Western Auto and Pueblo, Puerto Rico's largest supermarket chain, are slated to participate in the program.

Advo's America's Looking for Its Missing Children program, which includes photos of missing children on address cards, also will be incorporated into the Puerto Rico shared mail program.

This initial program will cover 25 percent of the population located on the western end of the island. Advo will expand to the entire island, including the population center of San Juan, once infrastructure is in place to handle larger volumes. Dittoe expects that to occur sometime in 1999. He also said the U.S. Virgin Islands would be a logical next step in Advo's expansion to the Caribbean.

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