Friday, November 18, 2011

The History of Mr. Zip

The website reports, "One of the most important breakthroughs in modern communication lies in an overlooked place. It’s printed onto envelopes, just below the address. Although we think nothing of the ZIP Code these days, when it was rolled out in the 1960s, it was a novel and challenging concept for many Americans. And so, to help sell the ZIP Code, the Post Office Department introduced a friendly new mascot for the public campaign: the grinning, lanky Mr. Zip."

According to the article, "The National Postal Museum has now launched a new site, created by museum curator Nancy Pope and intern Abby Curtin, that celebrates the history of the ZIP Code campaign and its speedy mascot."

Pope is quoted in the piece as saying in the early 1960s growing mail volume and suburbanization had strained the mail system. The Postmaster General at the time, J. Edward Day, and others were convinced of the need to automate the sorting process. So the Post Office came up with the idea of having a unique five-digit number to each post office in the country. Sorting machinery could then use the codes to directly route mail from one city to another. The concept became known as the Zone Improvement Plan or ZIP.

To help promote the use of ZIP codes, an advertising campaign was developed around the amateurish cartoon figure known as Mr. Zip which was originally created to be used in a Chase Manhattan Bank 1950’s bank-by-mail campaign .

To read the entire History of Mr. Zip article, click here.

To visit the new Mr. Zip site, click here.

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