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By Published on .

The U.S. Postal Service isn't backing down from its Priority Mail ad campaign despite a lawsuit and a counter radio ad campaign from rival Federal Express Corp.

The postal service on Dec. 5 launched new executions of the ads, nine months after starting the Priority Mail campaign that names names in comparing pricing with FedEx and United Parcel Service. The new effort adds comparisons of specific services, most notably Saturday delivery and customer pickups. The "What's your priority?" tag continues; FCB/Leber Katz Partners, New York, is the agency.

"My advertising strategy is not focused on bashing the competition," said David Shinnebarger, manager of expedited package services marketing. "We are trying to inform the American public that our shipping costs less and that we provide as good a service."

Mr. Shinnebarger said the initial ads were aimed at heightening awareness of Priority Mail as a less expensive alternative to competitors. And one of the new spots is similar, comparing overall prices.


The others, however, either compare Saturday delivery, cost of pickups or suggest Priority Mail for specific types of packages or audiences.

"We wanted to freshen up the campaign by continuing to introduce more facts," Mr. Shinnebarger said.

USPS spent heavily on Priority Mail advertising during its fiscal `96, ended Sept. 13, and the result was a $400 million increase in revenues, up 12%, and the departure of its VP-marketing. Loren Smith left after his shift of marketing money from other programs to Priority Mail advertising resulted in an $87 million overrun on ad spending and angered the USPS Board of Governors, which felt it hadn't been fully informed of the switch.


Mr. Shinnebarger declined to comment on spending for Priority Mail in the wake of Mr. Smith's departure, but Postmaster General Marvin Runyon seemed to answer that question in a speech last week.

He said the service was backing its efforts "with an aggressive advertising campaign [for Priority Mail that] has gotten our customers' attention . . . FedEx has sued us, but at the same time they have lowered the price of their two-day product by up to 35%."

Contributing: Alan Salomon.

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