The U.S. Post Office announces a new strategy, activists claim the plan should be “returned to sender”
March 21, 2012 | Washington, DC
Over the past century the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) has gone through changes to maintain its relevance with the changing times. With the spread of home telephones at the beginning of the 20th century it sold it self as “THE time-tested form of communication.” As televisions staked their ground in American living rooms it reassured people that a letter was still the best way to get a good picture of the news.
Generally USPS has stood its ground against the shifting sands of change, but the Internet changed that. At first USPS, an industry titan at that time, did not bother fighting with what it saw as a small fad. It had, after all, withstood the test of fax machines with its famous “Mail doesn’t need all that noise” campaign. Time would prove that the Internet was something different.
When the Internet developed e-mail—which USPS boisterously argued to be a trademark and patent infringement, until ceasing legal efforts in 2007—USPS started to take note, but the ground had already shifted. Failing to recognize the value of the relationship that the Internet had brokered with Time, USPS quickly lost market share.
USPS, always a marketing machine, launched many ad campaigns. When critically acclaimed gems, such as “Fonts don’t equal handwriting,” failed to shift the bottom line, the company turned to slanderous ad campaigns. These campaigns—most notably the fear mongering “Drowning while surfing, a horrible way to die”—only led to backlash.
This inability to prevent the emigration of customers, combined with serious funding and political problems, was extremely damaging. It was not long before many industry experts were projecting USPS’ demise.