August 22, 2023
George Keagy, left, a Post Office Department official during the 1960s, watches a worker create a Mr. ZIP standup. The wooden standups were distributed to Post Offices to help promote ZIP Codes.
DALLAS — The ZIP Code was launched 60 years ago this month as part of a program of improvements to increase postal delivery speed.
At the time, Americans were already struggling to adapt to three-digit area codes for long-distance telephone calls, so promoting the five-digit ZIP (short for Zone Improvement Plan) Code was a tough sell. To help get the word out and encourage the widespread adoption of ZIP Codes, the Post Office Department enlisted the aid of an ad agency.
These efforts included:
• Ethel Merman singing of the virtues of ZIP Codes to the tune of “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah”;
• Public service announcements in newspapers, on radio and TV, and on buses and rapid transit;
• “ZIP Code” — a catchy, kitschy 15-minute film starring the Swingin’ Six musical group — which won a silver medal at the 1966 International Film and TV Festival for explaining the rationale behind the code; and
• Mr. ZIP, the new code’s mascot, which worked wonders in bringing it to public attention.
The full-court press paid off: By the end of the decade, the use of ZIP Codes had become established practice.
Today, the code has expanded to ZIP+4 and its uses have spread well beyond the Postal Service. Social scientists, businesses, demographers and others use the codes to interpret, organize and disseminate data.
The Postal Service continues making positive changes that benefit the American public and business customers.
The United States Postal Service released its Second-Year Progress Report on Delivering for America (DFA), the 10-year plan to return the organization to financial sustainability and achieve service excellence while maintaining universal six-day mail delivery and expanding seven-day package delivery.
The Delivering for America plan was published March 23, 2021, to transform the Postal Service from an organization in financial and operational crisis to one that is self-sustaining and high performing. In the first two years since, the Postal Service has aggressively advanced core DFA strategies and initiatives. While much work remains to be done to address the Postal Service’s financial and operational performance, DFA has already demonstrated that the path forward is achievable, and that the organization is working to be financially self-sustaining, high performing and provide excellent service to the nation.
As the Postal Service enters the third year of the Delivering for America plan, the organization continues its focus on improving service reliability for the American public and business customers by modernizing the outmoded and aging postal network across the nation, operational stabilization, and new competitive product offerings for our customers.
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Please Note: The United States Postal Service is an independent federal establishment, mandated to be self-financing and to serve every American community through the affordable, reliable, and secure delivery of mail and packages to more than 165 million addresses six and often seven days a week. Overseen by a bipartisan Board of Governors, the Postal Service is implementing a 10-year transformation plan, Delivering for America, to modernize the postal network, restore long-term financial sustainability, dramatically improve service across all mail and shipping categories, and maintain the organization as one of America’s most valued and trusted brands.
The Postal Service generally receives no tax dollars for operating expenses and relies on the sale of postage, products, and services to fund its operations.
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