USPS, Doughboy rise to the occasion

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The Pillsbury Doughboy is going postal.

The U.S. Postal Service is enlisting the poppin' fresh ad icon to appear in a shipping and mailing guide going to 110 million households next month, part of a co-promotion that's fitting in a year in which holiday stamps will feature cookie designs.

While no dough changed hands between the partners, each gets promotional benefits: The Minneapolis marketer will tout the new stamps in supermarket point-of-sale materials and the USPS, in addition to driving consumers to Pillsbury.com in its mailing, will officially dedicate the holiday stamp in the Pillsbury test kitchen Oct. 20.

The cover of USPS's brilliantly colored, eight-page guide shows holiday cookies, and pitches postal services ranging from stamps to shipping labels to cards from its NetPost CardStore while conveying information on carrier pickup and rates. The guide will also mention that tips for decorating the perfect holiday cookies are available at Pillsbury.com.

Rod DeVar, Postal Service manager-advertising, said the use of the Doughboy was an outgrowth of discussions aimed at making the user guide-this year is its second-more consumer-friendly. It was also inspired by the nature of this year's stamps and the guide's format, which uses an icon of a numbered cookie to introduce each postal service. The Postal Service's agency, Interpublic Group of Cos.' Campbell-Ewald, created the guide and related advertising.

The cookie theme will also be carried in half-page spread print ads to run mostly in women's and entertainment books and in Web banners, although the Doughboy will not appear in the advertising.

Mr. DeVar said last year's guide was a big hit. Some 38% of recipients remembered receiving it; 76% of those said they used it; and 31% said they kept it. The Postal Service is looking to repeat that success.

"There is a six-week window when we are big-time engaged with the consumer," Mr. DeVar said. "We want to leave you with the impression that we are good people to do business with."

The Postal Service will also take the unusual step of being sole sponsor of XM satellite radio's broadcast of five channels of holiday music from Thanksgiving to Christmas as part of a deal that also includes 3,500 spots on news and talk programming.

Holiday TV advertising, due to air mainly on cable, will reiterate the package theme of its current push and again feature an office worker, Angie, being given packages that she eventually ships through usps.com. This time, though, Angie will be at home baking cookies as friends ask her to ship packages. The USPS did not disclose spending on the effort.

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