U.S. Postal Service letter carriers are the stars of the agency's fall ad campaign, which began this month.
Capitalizing on the popularity of reality television, the campaign focuses on real postal employees who explain the many ways customers can access postal services without having to visit a post office or stand in a line.
In a national selection process, a letter carrier was chosen from each of the 80 USPS administrative districts nationwide to serve as a local spokesperson. Nine carriers were then selected from the 80 to serve as national postal ambassadors. They are appearing in national television, radio and print ads as well as in-store promotions and a direct mail and e-mail effort. They also are making personal appearances to promote the USPS.
The first “Working for You” TV commercial aired nationally Sept. 8. It features letter carrier Stephen Scully of Erie, PA, as well as several USPS Priority Mail packages entering the mail stream — at a collection box, an automated postal center and a retail window — and follows them as they are processed. It finishes with Scully picking up a Click-N-Ship Priority Mail package from a business and exiting to a sea of USPS employees.
“We are trying to make the point that the whole postal service is working for you to provide quick, easy and convenient access to our services,” said Rod DeVar, manager, advertising and promotion, USPS.
Also Sept. 8, the USPS began featuring in-store advertising with letter carriers in retail post offices.
Full-page ads appear starting today in 39 business and lifestyle magazines including Time, Fortune, Entrepreneur, Inc. and Black Enterprise. Other TV and radio ads begin this week as well.
The carriers also will be featured in a direct mail campaign dropping this week for delivery Sept. 28 to Oct. 3. The self-mailer goes to 11.3 million large and small businesses nationwide gleaned from the postal service's database.
The mailing focuses on the postal service's Carrier Pickup program, which lets customers go to the USPS Web site to request next-day package pickups. There is no fee because packages are picked up from customers as part of the carrier's normal delivery route. Packages must be prepared with the appropriate postage and be ready to go when picked up. Customers can request a pickup for any number of packages, but each package must not exceed 70 pounds.
Emblazoned on the front of the mail piece is the phrase: “Daily Arrivals & Daily Departures From the U.S. Postal Service.” Inside, alongside the picture of Jim Willson, a postal carrier from Royal Oak, MI, is the phrase “We Not Only Deliver Packages To Your Door. We Pick Them Up As Well.” The mail piece explains Carrier Pickup and directs recipients to usps.com/pickup to learn more.
The USPS will track how many people come to the site as well as “how many people who have taken the action of requesting pickup,” DeVar said.
The postal service sends an e-mail Sept. 24 with messaging similar to the mailer to 3 million people who have opted in to receive additional information from the USPS. Customers are invited to register to get a “Stack-and-Weigh” scale that can weigh up to a 6-pound package. The first 40,000 requests will be fulfilled for free.
Some e-mail recipients may also receive the mail piece.
The postal carrier featured in the e-mail blast is Alicia Tutt, from Falls Church, VA.
USPS worked with DraftWorldwide on the direct mail and e-mail campaigns and the in-store promotions, and Campbell-Ewald, its agency of record, on the radio, TV and print ads.
Ambassador selection began in May when local postal service management and National Association of Letter Carriers representatives met in 80 districts to identify 10 candidates for each district. Candidates were rated by management and union officials and media professionals for presentation skills and their ability to communicate. One carrier was chosen in each district.
The 80 district representatives gathered in Chicago in the summer for an intense audition to select the nine national ambassadors. In August, they received training as spokespeople. They will be joined later this year by postmasters chosen nationwide through a similar process, and representatives of other employee groups become part of the campaign in 2005.
The other national postal ambassadors are:
· Michael Cardarelli, Providence, RI
· John Dock, Mahwah, NJ
· Earl Keeton, Portland, OR
· Gina Mendoza-Telck, Fort Worth, TX
· Diana Taylor, Tupelo, MS
· Adele Yoshikawa, Pearl City, HI