Hey, Mr. Postman, Have You Got a Letter for HBO?

Postal Service to Help Promote 'John Adams' Miniseries

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) - -Remember when people actually sent handwritten letters? HBO does, and it's teamed with the Postal Service to persuade the nation to pen more "Dear John" letters -- or, if you like, "Dear Abigail."
John Adams poster

The miniseries premieres March 16 on HBO.

To promote its miniseries "John Adams," which premieres March 16, HBO has launched a wide-ranging retail and online campaign called "Power of the Letter." It's inspired by the former president's famous appreciation for writing to his wife, Abigail, with whom he exchanged more than 1,100 letters. A quote from Adams, "Let us dare to read, think, speak and write," will be featured on 3.75 million sales receipts per day issued by the Postal Service during February and March, a first. That quote also will appear on more than 3 billion pieces of mail as part of the cancellation marks.

HBO is also footing the bill for 50,000 customized postcards, as well as an extensive in-store presence that includes standing promotional signs in 4,000 post offices nationwide and window signs in more than 12,000 locations. The Postal Service is hoping to drive just as much traffic online.

Gauging interest
The campaign's official site, poweroftheletter.com, will be used by HBO and the Postal Service to gauge interest and generate social networking around the cause. "We don't want Americans to go to post offices. You can do everything online that you can do at a post office," said Joanne Giordano, VP-public affairs for the U.S. Postal Service. "We have 300 million customers, so we do collect a lot of data on them. We can tell if they are coming to buy stamps, look up ZIP codes. ... This is helping us raise the visibility of some of the products and services that today's Postal Service has to offer."

"We're trying to really remind the American people about the letter," she added. "Do you really want to e-mail Christmas cards?"
John Adams postmark

An Adams quote will appear on more than 3 billion pieces of mail as part of the cancellation marks.

The extensive media buy was executed by Civic Entertainment, a New York-based marketing group that specializes in partnerships between public organizations and brands. Civic and HBO last teamed up with Jeep to promote its miniseries "Band of Brothers," which, like "John Adams," was produced by Tom Hanks.

After meeting with Mr. Hanks and David McCullough, author of the Pulitzer-Prize winning biography that inspired the miniseries, the agency established a dual marketing goal to raise awareness for the miniseries' premiere and remind Americans to pick up their pens instead of their laptops when sending mail. "We felt there was such a natural, contextual connection that a partnership wasn't a stretch at all," said Spencer Rice, director of Civic Entertainment Group. "It was about as organic as it gets."

'Commensurate' spending
In additional, HBO will partner with Simon & Schuster on a high-end rerelease of Mr. McCullough's book, as well as traditional media buys in print and out of home. Zach Enterlin, HBO's VP-marketing, couldn't release specific figures but said spending was "commensurate" with the network's typical marketing outlay for a miniseries launch.

Ms. Giordano said the organization would be open to working with other marketing partners on campaigns of similar scope. The Postal Service already has teamed with Pillsbury to put the doughboy on its mailing guide in a deal that also involved holiday-cookie stamps. Last year's deal with George Lucas to create a limited series of R2D2 mailboxes to promote the "Star Wars" stamp was another.

"The Post Service is a pretty attractive marketing partner," Ms. Giordano said. "We have more outlets than McDonald's. You can't have a county without one."
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