Mr. Zip and the ZIP Code Promotional Campaign

Other Mr. Zip Appearances

Refer to caption
Mr. Zip appeared in several popular magazines during the 1960’s. Here he is in an ad from a March, 1965 issue of Time (Time, March 19, 1965, 92).

While Mr. Zip appeared in local post offices, on the sides of delivery vehicles, on postal uniforms, and in various events in the early to mid 1960’s, his likeness also appeared in newspapers, popular magazines, on the radio, and in public service announcements on local television channels. He appeared on the pages of magazines such as Time, Life and Reader’s Digest. In print advertisements, particularly those that appeared in small newspaper or magazine columns, an image of Mr. Zip often stood out, accompanied by a short message promoting ZIP Code use.

Refer to caption
In a September, 1965 issue of the Postal Record, Mr. Zip promoted ZIP Code, as well as air parcel post (Postal Record, September, 1965, 69).

Refer to caption
Mr. Zip appeared on ads during the Post Office Department’s annual Mail Early for Christmas promotions. The promotional campaign urged Americans to send Christmas cards and gifts early in the holiday season to ensure their delivery in time for Christmas (courtesy, George Kroloff, Post Office Department).

In radio and television spots, specifically those written by the Department’s Office of Public Information prior to 1965, Mr. Zip is often mentioned. One script states, “Mr. Zip represents the revolutionary new ZIP Code system of mail delivery.”(1) Other spots used Mr. Zip to promote the “Mail Early for Christmas” campaign (an annual campaign that aimed to convince Americans to mail Christmas cards and gifts early in the Christmas season to avoid late delivery and postal backups that might result from large volumes of mail being sent in the days immediately before the holiday). One such script from 1965 stated, “Take a tip from the Post Office’s Mr. Zip. Do your Christmas shopping early so that you can mail early.”(2) Another from 1968 said, “That smiling little postal character Mr. Zip is again suggesting your holiday mail will arrive on time, if you shop early and use ZIP Codes.”(3) In order to reach Hispanic and Latin American audiences in places like Florida and the Southwestern United States, the Post Office Department translated a number of its radio spot scripts into Spanish.(4)

Later radio spots from 1966 and the last years of the 1960’s were produced by the Advertising Council and rarely mention Mr. Zip. However, he could easily be found in print advertisements. It seems that images of Mr. Zip, instead of mentions of him in radio and TV spots, were more crucial to his success in gaining recognition among the American public.

 

ZIP Code Campaign Public Service Announcement Videos

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Mr. Zip Video

00:01

This is Mr. Zip. He revolutionized the mail delivery system of the United States with his ZIP Code.

00:07

The heart of the system is a number – a ZIP Code number.

00:11

Let’s break this one down and see how it works.

00:14

Each of these five numbers plays an important role.

00:18

The country is divided into ten sections, and the first number represents one of these sections.

00:23

In this case, the six stands for part of the Midwest.

00:27

The next two numbers narrow it down.

00:31

For instance, the oh six pinpoints Chicago.

00:36

And the last two numbers?

00:37

They indicate a final stop before delivery – a local post office.

00:42

And here it is, the Elmwood Park branch of Chicago, our thirty five.

00:47

It’s that simple.

00:48

Call your post office with the ZIP Code numbers you need,

00:51

and use them here and here for the fastest possible mail delivery.

00:55

Remember, only you can put ZIP in your postal system.

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Johnny Puleo Promotion

00:03

[Harmonica music]

00:49

As Johnny Puleo strongly suggests, use ZIP Code on all your mail.

00:56

Remember, only you can put ZIP in your postal system.

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"Swingin' Six" ZIP Code Video

00:06

ZIP!

00:15

ZIP!

00:23

Well hello my friend. How do you do?

00:25

We hope you have a moment or two to listen to what we have to say to each and every one of you.

00:33

It concerns our postal system.

00:35

Our lifetime friend, as all of you know.

00:37

They’ve never failed us through the years, through driving rain, sleet or snow.

00:44

But now they’ve got a problem, and what are they to do?

00:48

The answer, my friend is very simple. It’s up to you to see them through.

00:53

Doo do do do do do do do do do do do,

00:58

doo do do do do do do do do

01:03

Well, back in the days of the thirteen colonies the cry was freedom and how to defend it.

01:09

Mailing a letter wasn’t much trouble; there weren’t too many places to send it.

01:14

But now it’s a different story. They’ve got more mail than ever before.

01:19

It’s stuffed in bags, stacked on shelves. There’s hardly room for anything more.

01:24

There’s been a mail explosion! They’ve got a terrible load! You’ve got to help them right away,

01:31

before the U.S. Post Office explodes!

01:50

Whoooooah

02:03

It wasn’t so long ago that communication was a simple act.

02:09

But the range of the human voice is limited.

02:12

So, man’s ingenuity found ways to bridge distance.

02:16

He invented writing, and typographical errors.

02:26

To carry messages across vast distances, man developed roads, highways, turnpikes,

02:36

bunions, calluses, and a rare assortment of aching limbs.

02:46

Yes, up until recently, communication remained a simple act.

02:51

What matter if it took two weeks to go from New York to Atlanta, a month to St. Louis.

02:56

If the letter from Uncle Ben arrived a day or so later, nobody fussed.

02:58

The times were tuned to wagon wheels, footpaths, and the puff of wind against sails.

03:08

Distance was measured by weeks and months. Everything was a far time off.

03:15

Then, slowly, the country got up steam. Commerce shook off its sea anchor

03:20

and headed westward, all the width of the continent. There was a new idea: speed.

03:27

Everything was coming up to date in the Kansas Cities and the Portlands.

03:34

Communications became the most vital aspect of our economy.

03:37

The post office became the prime artery of commerce.

03:41

For a time, the Department was perfectly able to keep up. If the mail piled high,

03:47

put on another piece of equipment. And if that didn’t do the trick, add a few more clerks, or a flock of carriers.

03:56

But by World War One, the post office carried

03:59

more advertising in a week then all the newspapers and magazines could carry in a year.

04:05

It was the country’s bill collector, check deliverer, errand runner.

04:10

The volume of mail delivered leaped to twenty billion. By 1948, it had doubled – forty billion.

04:18

This year, doubled again – nearly eighty billion pieces of mail.

04:24

Literally, the post office stands to be swamped, overwhelmed, drowned, in a sea of mail.

04:32

Where do we go from here?

04:34

Patchwork, piecemeal solutions based upon obsolete transportation routes will not work.

04:40

The answer has to be as new as the challenge is new. And the post office has the only logical answer.

04:48

ZIP Code. Mail distribution via the straight line.

04:52

Always the shortest distance between two distant points.

04:55

ZIP Code.

04:56

Five trailblazing numbers like this one, launch every piece of mail

05:01

with space age speed and precision.

05:08

Now that’s easy to say, and it sounds just fine, but let’s put this question right on the line.

05:13

What is the ZIP Code – a postal quirk?

05:16

What does it do? How does it work?

05:19

If you’ll lend an ear we’ll be glad to explain how the ZIP code eases your postal pain.

05:29

The first digit tells me what part of the nation your letter will find its destination.

05:34

Since the country’s divided into ten big sections,

05:37

each with a number to establish direction, before your letter has even departed, we’ve already got it started.

05:49

The next two digits go hand in hand, to a major post office over land.

05:54

Since each big section has town after town…

05:57

we need these numbers to really narrow things down.

06:00

We’ve got the section, we’ve got the city, just two more numbers and we’re sitting pretty.

06:10

These last two digits are really specific. They’re your local post office number.

06:14

Terrific!

06:19

What a system; as you can plainly see, just five little numbers, quick as can be.

06:24

But if you have a question or if you have a doubt, if you’re still not sure what the whole thing’s about,

06:29

just always remember ZIP Code defined means city to city in one straight line.

06:38

But don’t take it from us. Don’t take it from me. Try it yourself.

06:42

You’ll see.

06:46

It’s a better deal than you’ll get from any other post office department.

06:51

Yes, ZIP Code is a better deal.

06:55

Moving the mail in one straight line; straight as an arrow.

06:59

And on Valentine’s Day, it could be Cupid’s arrow.

07:05

The time: before ZIP Code.

07:08

A boy, a girl, a valentine.

07:12

There was a boy in New York City who loved a girl by Frisco Bay.

07:24

He sent a card to say he loved her, to say he cared that special way.

07:37

His letter zigged and zagged along the way.

07:43

His lonely letter lagged day after day.

07:48

She waited more and lonely hours just to hear what he would say,

08:00

but when his words were finally spoken, all her love had gone astray on a sad, sad Valentine’s Day.

08:26

And now, another valentine, carefully ZIP coded, here and here.

08:33

A different girl, still far away by Frisco Bay, but the same boy, a little older and a little wiser.

08:43

His letter flew across the country in just one day it reached her hand.

08:56

In just one day, she knew the answer, the happiest girl in all the land.

09:09

Mmmmm....

09:15

Mmmmm....

09:25

And those ZIP Code numbers will help clear up two of the major problems that give the Post Office Department fits.

09:32

Scene: The Dead Letter Office.

09:35

Have you ever asked yourself this question? Why do postal clerks get indigestion?

09:40

There are many reasons. I won’t bother to list them. It’s all the stamp glue we take into our system.

09:45

I guess that’s as logical as a man can get,

09:48

but that’s not the reason for their stomach upset.

09:51

It’s from trying to read the American hand, illegibly written throughout the land.

09:56

This letter will prove exactly what we said. The name of the city simply can’t be read.

10:02

Oakdale. Oakfield.

10:05

Oakhurst. Oakpark?

10:07

Oakwood. Tuscaloosa.

10:10

Tuscaloosa? Tuscaloosa?

10:13

Now you see what we mean? If the writing’s no good, this letter might as well be carved out of wood.

10:19

If you think bad handwriting is only hard

10:22

on your eyes, just try this problem on for size.

10:26

I’ve got a letter here for someone from Springfield.

10:29

Springfield?

10:30

I’m from Springfield, Massachusetts and I’m telling you, pal there’s no place I’d rather be.

10:36

I’m from Springfield, Pennsylvania and there’s been a mistake.

10:39

This letter is apparently for me.

10:42

I’m from Springfield, Arizona and I want you to know I’ve been waiting for this letter since a weekend ago.

10:48

Oh what good does it do to send a letter my way when I’m in Springfield, USA.

10:53

I have looked into this problem, and I’m telling you boys,

10:56

you’re angry and you have a right to be.

10:58

There are very many cities with identical names, and Springfield is not the least of these.

11:04

There are twenty four Springfields causing postal delays, and they’re all abbreviated with a two letter phrase.

11:09

Oh what good does it do to send a letter my way, when I’m from Springfield, USA.

11:14

There’s a Springfield, AR and a Springfield OH, a Springfield, FLA, and a Springfield, MO.

11:20

A Springfield, IL and a Springfield, ID. A Springfield, KY, and a Springfield, SD.

11:25

There’s a Springfield, ND and a Springfield, GA.

11:28

There’s a Springfield, NJ and a Springfield, PA.

11:31

There’s a Springfield, OR, and eleven more if you really feel like keeping score. Oh!

11:36

Oh! Oh! What good does it do to send a letter my way when I’m from Springfield, USA.

11:47

ZIP Code is bringing the mail explosion under control.

11:51

It is as up to date as the computer,

11:54

as timely as the fantastic ZIP Code scanner, electronically reading ZIP Codes and sorting the mail.

12:01

It is a success, but to make ZIP Code work, you must use it.

12:07

Remember, only you can put ZIP in your postal system.

12:13

To get any ZIP Code numbers you may need, including your own,

12:17

just call your local post office.

12:25

Keep it all in your head, there’s no better way.

12:31

Use ZIP Code every day.

12:33

You know you’ve gotta have a ZIP Code on the envelope, a ZIP Code so you won’t just have to hope.

12:40

A ZIP Code morning, noon and night, and everything will be alright.

12:45

Well, you get faster service and a lower cost. Fewer mistakes, no time ever lost.

12:51

A lot less handling along the way. No damage for you to pay.

12:56

You know you’ve gotta have a ZIP Code on the envelope, a ZIP Code so you won’t just have to hope.

13:03

A ZIP Code morning, noon and night, and everything will be alright.

13:08

Well, meet a fellow called Mr. ZIP. What he can do for you will really make you flip.

13:15

So if you have any further postal demands, we’re gonna leave you in his hands.

13:20

You know you’ve gotta have a ZIP Code on the envelope, a ZIP Code so you won’t just have to hope.

13:28

A ZIP Code morning, noon and night, and everything will be alright.

13:33

And now, my friend, we’ll say so long.

13:36

We hope you’re singing our ZIP Code song.

13:39

We’ve told you everything we know.

13:42

It’s up to you to make ZIP Code go.

13:44

You know you’ve gotta have a ZIP Code on the envelope,

13:48

a ZIP Code so you won’t just have to hope.

13:51

A ZIP Code morning, noon and night, and everything will be alright.

13:56

You know you’ve gotta have a ZIP Code on the envelope, a ZIP Code so you won’t just have to hope.

14:03

A ZIP Code morning, noon and night, and everything will be al...

14:08

everything will be al....

14:09

everything will be alright!

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"Help!" ZIP Code Video

00:01

Here is a message from the United States Post Office.

00:04

HELP!

00:06

The Post Office is flooded with mail.

00:09

The mail load keeps getting bigger.

00:11

It now pours in at the rate of over two hundred million new letters and packages a day.

00:15

Just sorting this avalanche of mail takes longer and longer and can slow up mail delivery.

00:22

Your mail. That’s why ZIP Code was created.

00:27

When you add ZIP Code to the address, postal workers can sort the mail far more quickly and efficiently.

00:33

And the post office can use its new electronic machines that read ZIP numbers and sort mail with space age speed.

00:39

So add ZIP Code to every mailing address. If you don’t know the right ZIP,

00:44

call your post office or look it up in their ZIP directory.

00:48

Include your own ZIP Code in your return address. That makes it easy for others to ZIP mail to you.

00:54

Remember, mail moves the country, and ZIP Code moves the mail!

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"Shop Early" ZIP Code Video

00:01

Christmas mail control center, Washington, D.C.

00:06

We have the people, the plans, and the equipment to deliver your holiday mail on time,

00:12

but we still need your help.

00:15

Please shop early, mail early, and use ZIP Code.

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"Handling" ZIP Code Video

00:01

No matter how fast you go, handling slows things down.

00:05

Sometimes it even stops you cold.

00:08

ZIP Code eliminates a lot of the handling and a lot of the stops.

00:13

Those ZIP numbers instantly give the most direct route just at the critical moments

00:18

when your mail is being relayed.

00:20

Don’t tie up mail service.

00:23

Use ZIP Code.

00:24

Remember, mail moves the country, and ZIP Code moves the mail.


ZIP Code Campaign Public Service Announcement Audio Clips

"Machine" 1967

[sound of machinery]

Announcer: That machine youhear is a ZIP Code scanner in action, an electronic device that actually reads the ZIP Code on your letters and speeds them on their way at the fantastic rate of 36,000 per hour. Put it to work for you. Use ZIP Code on every letter you send. Don’t hold up the mail. Remember –mail moves the country and ZIP Code moves the mail.

[sound of machinery]

"Dear Ralph" 1967

Woman: Dear Ralph, Iam writing to tell you that I have reached a decision....

Young man: Dear Mom, our platoon was on biv-whack last week, so this is my first chance to write....

Child: Dear Eddie,thanks for inviting me to your party. I had a very good time....

Announcer: The letters we write are so important to us, and the people who are waiting for them. So when you write, take the extra three seconds required to add ZIP Code to the mailing address. ZIP Code helps improve mailservice, helps our postal workers to sort mail faster, and deliver it by more direct routes. That’s why ZIP belongs on every mailing address,and on your return address too, so otherscan easily ZIP their mail to you. Help improve mail service by using ZIP Code. It will bring you a little bit closer to everyone you know.

"What's Yours?" 1967

Woman: Mine is 30949.

Man: Mine is 02446.

Child: Mine is 60635.

Announcer: What’s yours? You ZIP Code, that is! You should know it, because your ZIP Code is now the most important part of your mailing address. Here’s why. The post office now faces an avalancheof two hundred million new pieces of mail every day. To handlethis enormous job efficiently, they have devised the modern ZIP Code system.ZIP Code enables our postal workers to sort mail far more swiftly and deliver it by more direct routes. So use ZIP on every mailing address, and add your own ZIP number to your return address so that others can easily ZIP their mail to you. When you don’t know a ZIP number, call your post office, or look it up in their national ZIPdirectory. The sooner we all use ZIP Code, the sooner we’ll all enjoy better, more efficient mail service.

"Reporter" 1968

Reporter: Excuse me, I’m a reporter. I’m doing a story about the post office and I’d like to see how the mail is processed.

Postal employee: Be our guest, but better move back; another truckload of mail is coming in.

[Sound of truck]

Postal employee: Just pile it here, Harry!

Reporter: Wow! That’s a lot of mail!

[Background chatter]

Postal employee: Are you kidding? Those are just a few sacks. Dozens more come in every minute loaded with letters that have to be sorted. The ZIP coded ones are a snap, but those others...I’d like to talk to every person who sent a letter today without using a ZIP Code.

Reporter: Yeah? What would you tell them?

Postal employee: I’d tell them their letter’s gonna hold up the works! Look –they’ll be picking up the sorted mail in five minutes. Now, if every letter here had ZIP Codes, they’d all make that pickup, but no. A lot of them will have to be sorted the old way. People who don’t use ZIP Codes are holding up the mail! Hey, that’s a pretty good slogan; why don’t you print that?

Reporter: I don’t haveto. You see, I’ma radio reporter. Your message is travelling all over the country right now.

Postal employee: No kidding! Say, can I just say one more thing?Reporter: Sure.Postal employee: Hello Sally! Hi Ben! Hi Susie...

"Snow" 1968

[Sound of footstepsas letter carrier walks]

Letter carrier: They say neither snow, [windblowing]nor rain [rainfalling], nor heat, nor gloom of night....

[Sound of footsteps as letter carrier walks]

Letter carrier: Ouch!!

[Sound of letter carrier falling]

Announcer: Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night will hold up your mail, but you can if you don’t use ZIP Codes.Be sure to use ZIP Code on every letter and package you send, and always include your own ZIP Code in your return address. That way, others will have it when they write to you. Remember –mail moves the country, and ZIP Code moves the mail.

[Letter carrier muttering angrily]

[Dog barking]

[Footsteps]

"Postmaster General" 1968

Announcer: The Postmaster General of the United States, W. Marvin Watson.

Postmaster General: Each year the mail load increases by billions of letters, parcels and publications. To handle this tremendous volume of mail,we need a modern postal system, and we’re working toward that goal. What can be done now? The easiest, fastest way to improve mail service is to use ZIP Code. With ZIP Code, mail can be sorted faster and more efficiently. Help yourself to betterpostal service; use ZIP Code.

"Good News" 1968

Announcer: When you look over your morning mail, there’s one thing you can be sure of: the bills always seem to arrive right on time. How do they do it? Ever notice that business men use ZIP Code? How bout you? Use ZIP Code on all your mail, and keep the good news moving fast too. Don’t tie up the mail; use ZIP Code.

"Zip Code"

[Jingle Bell music throughout]

Singers: ZIP Code!

Announcer: During this holiday season, the post office would like you to help them get your mail through faster.

Singers: ZIP Code, ZIP Code!

Announcer: Put the ZIP on every letter.

Singers: ZIP Code, ZIP Code!

Announcer: Your mail will get there better.

Singers: It will move without delay. It’s the perfect way to get the mail to where it’s going. ZIP Code, ZIP Code!

Announcer: ZIP up this holiday season.

Singers: It’s the easy way. Shop early; mail early; use ZIP Code today!

Announcer: ZIP Code is the sure way to get the mail going quickly, dependably and safely to a destination. ZIP Code moves the mail.

Singers: Shop early!

Announcer: Beat the crowds; get your shopping done early.

Singers: Mail early!

Announcer: Avoid the last minute rush and mail early.

Singers: Use ZIP Code today! ZIP Code!

Announcer: Make a mailman happy.

"ZIP Code Ballad"

[Guitar music throughout]

Singer: My true love’s many faces, many places you see; the city, the country, the sea. Where ever my true love may take it to be; now ZIP Code will find her for me. Where ever my true love may take it to be; now ZIP Code will find her for me. Oh ZIP code, please find her for me.

"What a Perfect Christmas"

[Piano music]

Woman singing: Hear Santa’s sleigh bells tinkling sound, while carol singers gather ‘round. Swirling snowflakes fluff the ground; what a perfect Christmas. Like old man winter’s cherry nose, each tiny face just beams and glows, tucked in bed with snuggly toes; what a perfect Christmas. Here’s a cute fat doll, a bright red bike. You’ll get what you asked for; maybe. Here’s a robe for dad I hope he’ll likeand mittens for the baby.The other gifts beneath our tree were mailed on time and properly; ZIP Code plainly marked to see. Oh! What a perfect, what a perfect, what a perfect Christmas!


1) George Kroloff, donation.

2) Mail Early for Christmas Live Spot Kit-1965, U.S. Post Office Department, Office of Public Information, 1965, George Kroloff donation.

3) Mail Early for Christmas Live Spot Kit-1965, U.S. Post Office Department, Office of Public Information, 1968, George Kroloff donation.

4) Kroloff, interview.