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The British are coming.

The Royal Mail, part of the British Post Office, has deployed a small U.S. sales force to capture part of the estimated $1.5 billion of U.S. direct marketers' mail headed overseas.

An ad and public relations effort from Grey Integrated, London, includes direct mail and page ads in DM News. Grey Integrated, London, handles advertising.

The Royal Mail wants to compete head-to-head against the U.S. Postal Service, which it estimates handles 70% of bulk mail headed overseas. Australia-based TNT, the Dutch Interpost and the Danish Royal Viking Post also compete in this market.

U.S. marketers should use the Royal Mail for worldwide mailings because it's faster, and more reliable and cost competitive than the U.S. Postal Service and others, said Adam Novak, the Royal Mail's international sales and marketing director.

The Royal Mail also offers database marketing and other services through a consortium of direct mail providers in the U.S. and U.K.

"Europe has 360 million people, 40% more than North America," Mr. Novak said. "Also, direct mail as a marketing technique is relatively young. North Americans get 977 direct mail pieces a year, while the average European household gets 52 pieces a year. There is a lot of potential there."

AT&T, Business Week and the Economics Press are Royal Mail customers.

"I have had very good experience with their service, and it is cost competitive," said Brigitte Dente, VP-director of international marketing at Economics Press, a Fairfield, N.J., business training publisher. "We do get a better price sometimes, and they can do time-sensitive deliveries very quickly."

But the U.S. Postal Service has no intention of ceding any business.

"We deliver 40% of the world's mail-far more than our nearest competitor, Japan, which has 8%," said Greg Frey, media relations representative, postal service. "We intend to remain the world powerhouse in communications."

The Royal Mail has about 3% to 4% of the world's mail volume and about 7% of the international bulk-contract market. "We have ambition to be a world-class global postal player," Mr. Novak said.

Gary Levin coordinates Direct

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