The Postal Service is identified with a promise that neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night would stay its couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds. But the Internet? Don’t ask.
Although ways to communicate online have made untold billions of pieces of first-class mail vanish, costing the Postal Service untold billions of dollars in revenue, there is a silver lining: strong growth in delivering packages that consumers order through e-commerce. Reflecting that, the Postal Service has been devoting more attention to its delivery services, including changes announced this past week in Priority Mail that were described as major upgrades.
So it is no surprise that the first round of advertising for the Postal Service from its new creative agency, McCann Erickson Worldwide, is being devoted to Priority Mail. The campaign, which will include commercials, print and online ads, direct marketing and a presence in social media, seeks to elevate itself beyond peddling products by introducing a theme, “Priority: you,” that evokes the unofficial Postal Service “Neither … nor” creed.
The initial commercial even shows postal employees making deliveries in, yes, snow and rain. “Staying warm and dry has never been our priority,” an announcer declares. Scenes of deliveries in rural areas are accompanied by the announcer’s assertion that “catering to the conveniently located has never been our priority.”
“Our priority is, was and always will be serving you, the American people,” he continues, adding, “We get to see everyone in America, almost every day, and we’ve noticed you’re sending and receiving more packages than ever.” That is a nice segue to the Priority Mail message, which promotes upgrades that include free, improved tracking; free insurance, valued at $50 or $100; and specified delivery dates of one, two or three days.
The goal of the campaign is to focus on “one of the bright spots in the Postal Service’s future,” said Nagisa Manabe, executive vice president and chief marketing and sales officer at the Postal Service in Washington, rather than “our challenging situation” as a result of problems like falling mail volume and revenue.
Manabe acknowledged how the migration to online is a doubled-edged sword for the Postal Service. Because “the Internet giveth and taketh away,” she said, “the growth in our package business is really mission critical, and it’s very important to continually improve our reliability.”
The Postal Service spent about $75 million on advertising last year, compared with $91 million in 2011. Plans call for the ads devoted to Priority Mail to be followed by the Postal Service’s annual holiday campaign, Manabe said, a crucial initiative because that is “the busiest time of the year for packages and mail.”