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USPS emphasizes service in campaign

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It's not your grandfather's Postal Service. That's the gist of the message behind the U.S. Postal Service's new branding campaign, which is designed to introduce a new tagline for the first time in nearly a decade.

Gone are the words, "U.S. Postal Service," and in their place is the new tagline, "Today's mail," along with a simple, abstract logo showing the recognizable USPS eagle head.

Last month, the Postal Service introduced the campaign, sending a postcard to more than 20 million businesses and 136 million households that touted the contemporary branding and raising awareness of the breadth of products and services it offers.

In addition to direct mail, page ads ran in USA Today. The consumer ad ran in the "Life" section of the paper; the ad targeting business professionals, in the "Business" section.

USPS' agency of record, Warren, Mich.-based Campbell-Ewald, handled the campaign.

Postcard copy is set in reverse type against bright-colored backgrounds (green for b-to-b; magenta for the consumer card). Displayed in large, boldface, uppercase type in the b-to-b card is the word "today" followed by "you will" with a laundry list of statements, such as: "ship a package without leaving your desk," "drive customers to your Web site with a catalog" and "use our free eco-friendly packaging." Following that list is a URL that directs the customer to a b-to-b landing page (usps.com/business) to learn more. The tagline, "Today's mail," is in all caps along the bottom, punctuated by the logo.

"The real intent of `Today's mail' is to communicate all of the great changes that have gone on in the past five years or so at the post office in both mail and package services," said Mark Bellissimo, exec VP-account director at Campbell-Ewald.

Change perceptions

One of the chief goals of the campaign is to change the public's negative perceptions of USPS, according to the Postal Service.

"In the last few years, we've introduced a host of new products and services that make it easier to do business with us," said Rod DeVar, manager, advertising and promotion at USPS. "We wanted a signal change to the customer. We wanted them to know something was different about the Postal Service and what it did for you. We wanted it to be very contemporary."

Despite all the product and service advancements, which include sophisticated online mailing tools for businesses and automated postal centers, many people still have an outmoded vision of USPS, he said.

"People are mired in thinking about the Postal Service as an organization in a dated way that is 20 to 30 years old. We have a lot of new ways of doing business that customers are surprised about and didn't expect from us."

Bellissimo said USPS needed to get the word out that its services extend far beyond its retail locations.

"A redefining of the Postal Service and its products and services offering was needed. [Customers] were not aware of the newest products and services," he said, adding that they were also not aware of the variety of channels they have to access the Postal Service, such as online: "It's not just the retail location."

Focus groups conducted by Campbell-Ewald this spring and summer uncovered customers' opinions of USPS.

The agency also discovered that a "reservoir of goodwill exists among business target groups for the Postal Service," Bellissimo said.

Thirty-seven focus group sessions were held to learn how to better communicate with a broad array of different customers and prospects, and the intelligence gained from those sessions informed USPS' new ad push.

"We had quite a few different constituencies to talk to, so it required a pretty extensive program," Bellissimo said.

The focus groups, which ran from April through July, encompassed many different types of business mail users: small businesses, defined as companies with 10 to 100 employees; micro businesses, companies with fewer than 10 employees; mail business partners, such as agencies and printers; marketing and communications executives within large companies; and logistics and operations executives within large companies.

USPS' drive to tout its services is not unlike the ad mission of other major shippers. DHL, FedEx Corp. and UPS have all told BtoB recently that the focus of their advertising and marketing efforts this past year has been on the breadth of capabilities they offer customers.

New tagline 'ownable'

DeVar said USPS' new tagline is "ownable" and distinctive to its service and what USPS represents. He added that it has relevance for both business and consumer customers.

"It's a tricky thing to come up with a tagline that's ownable," he said. "We wanted a tagline that could not be mistaken as one that could be connected to anything but the U.S. post office. We also needed a line that would be relevant and understood by both our consumer and business customers."

The new positioning sets the stage for all future USPS business and consumer advertising, DeVar said. In January, an integrated campaign comprised of online, print and direct mail specific to its package services business will debut, he said, and will incorporate the new tagline.

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