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Odd-shaped ads may sail through mail

Postal Service wants to create a 'niche' category

WASHINGTON — Odd shapes and sizes of advertising mail, designed to catch the buyer's attention, may be the wave of the future.

The Postal Service wants to establish a new category of advertising mail that would ease current size and shape limits.

Called Customized MarketMail, the new category would be limited only by the imagination of the direct marketer, said Anita Bizzotto, chief marketing officer for the Postal Service.

Advertising post cards, for example, might be shaped like a bicycle or automobile.

Currently, size and shape limits are imposed so that mail can be easily and quickly handled by the agency's automated equipment.

But the new category would bypass that equipment by requiring that such mail be prepared in containers that would be taken directly to the local post office where they are to be delivered.

Postal officials say they expect this class to become a "niche" product, with the mailings targeted at a specific audience in order to justify the cost of creating the unusual items and delivering them.

The new mail class must be approved by the independent Postal Rate Commission, which is studying possible rates for the service and is collecting testimony on the proposal.