Evolution of a Medium, or it’s decline and fall?

The U S Postal Service ramps up its marketing for Direct Mail – using the medium to showcase the message. The ‘current’ campaign uses a highly sophisticated direct mailpiece (see description below). Based on our experience developing integrated direct marketing campaigns for Express Mail in the USPS Northeast Region in the mid-1980s, the current campaign is likely targeting SMEs with a list built from a.) In house customer account files, b.) Respondents from prior marketing campaigns, and c.) Purchased lists based on USPS criteria for market segments for direct mail.

The mailpiece itself combines several interactive elements to engage the audience’s senses including sight – the visual elements of design; touch – the physical mailpiece itself, a hard copy Business Reply Card to mail back for more information and featured publication, and the interaction of rubbing the ‘cookie images’; smell – to release the aroma of the cookies, as well as digital interaction with a QR code to scan in order to obtain a copy of publication the “Evolution of a Medium”

The one glaring flaw of the campaign is its timing, as evoked in the copy and artwork; i.e., a tie in to the Holiday Season as referenced by the scratch and sniff holiday cookies. And most interestingly, the direct mailpiece image that was scanned in the Informed Delivery ® service is hot linked to a USPS response microsite – Uncover the secret ingredients with USPS. | USPS Delivers, in effect serving as a demonstration of the service, and an example of an integrated marketing medium.

Unfortunately, it appears that the Postal Service cannot deliver even its own mail on time which is particularly poignant amidst its latest existential crisis. Somehow, delivering mail months late (yes, we are still receiving holiday cards from friends and family as of this month, birthday cards mailed to family members that would have been delivered within the normal First Class Mail standard time frame of 2-3 days nationwide never showed up, and checks mailed to professional industry organizations in January have disappeared.

So, the question remains, is this the Evolution of mail, or the decline and fall of a Postal Service?