NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- The United States Postal Service has suspended its TV advertising in the wake of recent anthrax incidents.
"In light of recent events, we decided to pull the ads for the time being," Postal Service spokesman Gerry Kreienkamp said. "When the current situation subsides, then we'll do a re-evaluation of what we're going to do. We just felt it was a prudent thing to do."
The Postal Service, however, is sending out 145 million postcards alerting people about what to look for in terms of suspicious mail. As of Oct. 25, 32 documented cases of anthrax exposure, 12 infections and three deaths have occurred.
"We're giving the public as much information as we know," Mr. Kreienkamp said, who added it will "depend on external events as to when we will start advertising again."
$139 million ad account
The USPS is a $139 million account for Bcom3 Group's Leo Burnett USA, Chicago, $110 million of which is spent on TV. Burnett won the business last year and developed a new campaign with the tagline: "The Postal Service is everywhere so you can be anywhere."
Postal Service print ads are still appearing, Mr. Kreienkamp said, mainly due to longer lead times that make it difficult to pull out of magazines. When asked if creative for TV spots will change, or if the Postal Service will run any customer service or crisis response ads, Mr. Kreienkamp said it was premature to speculate.
The Postal Service's competitors, FedEx Corp. and United Parcel Service, have no plans to change advertising. FedEx just broke new creative from Omnicom Group's BBDO Worldwide, New York, earlier this month, and spokeswoman Carla Richards said the company has no intention of changing its ad buys.
FedEx also has a business relationship with USPS to transport its Priority and Express mail, and some first-class mail, from airport to airport. But Ms. Richards stressed it was simply a freight agreement, and no FedEx couriers deliver U.S. mail, and no postal service workers deliver FedEx packages.
Neither FedEx nor UPS would release any volume figures to indicate whether their business has increased in light of the anthrax scare.
Postal centers have been on high alert since it became clear earlier this month the U.S. mail was being used as a conduit to spread potentially deadly anthrax spores. Letters have been received at the offices of Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., NBC News, CBS, The New York Times and New York Post, among others.