It would prove to be quite a coup for the U.S. Postal Service if the most vivid digital memory of Christmas 2014 left dancing in the heads of America’s children involved the big, boring, blue mailbox at the end of the block.
It could happen. This week, the Postal Service launches the USPS AR app, which uses augmented reality to turn mailboxes into igloos and promotes the Post Office’s holiday offer of free shipping boxes. People who download the app to their smartphones can point them at any of the 156,271 mailboxes across the land to witness the holiday spectacle.
Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe’s plan to revitalize the Postal Service includes investing in innovation and technology. Augmented reality is one area that USPS has been pitching to direct mailers and catalogers as a way to integrate paper mailings with digital tools.
“Mobile technology is enhancing physical mail in some pretty remarkable ways,” says Chief Marketing and Sales Officer Nagisa Manabe. “Augmented reality, QR codes, and one-click buying technology are changing the way consumers interact with major brands.”
The AR app—which can be downloaded from App Store or Google Play—is part of the Postal Service’s “This Is Our Season” campaign for the holidays, which offers consumers scheduled package pickups at their homes, as well as delivery of free shipping boxes. It’s being promoted with a direct mail blitz, print ads, and television spots—one of which features Donahoe rallying the troops for the holidays.
“Football has a season, baseball has a season,” the PMG tells a crew of postal workers. “This is our season.”