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New ShipShapes Product First to Take Advantage of USPS Customized MarketMail

Press release from the issuing company

PARK FOREST, Ill., July 14 -- Direct mail will literally take a new shape with the availability of ShipShapes, which enables direct marketers the first opportunity to take advantage of Customized MarketMail (CMM), a new classification of mail approved recently by the United States Postal Service (USPS). Customized MarketMail, successfully petitioned by ShipShapes, allows for non-rectangular, over-dimensional pieces of mail to be shipped without a package, carton or envelope. "With new telemarketing restrictions and anti-spam legislation in the works, ShipShapes comes at the perfect time to give marketers an exciting, innovative alternative to reach their top customers and prospects," says Tom Becker, CMM pioneer and president of ShipShapes. For the first time, direct marketers can deliver realistic samples of their products/services into the hands of their target audiences in any shape imaginable. In pilot tests, ShipShapes has created mailings in the images of everything from motorcycles and champagne bottles to stop signs and dartboards. Industry leaders, like the Direct Marketing Association (DMA), are supportive of CMM. "Customized MarketMail is an exciting new development in an industry that welcomes innovation," said H. Robert Wientzen, president and CEO of the DMA. "Business mailers are always interested in new creative applications of mail, so the industry is going to welcome this new technique. There is no doubt that CMM is the shape of things to come." According to industry averages, advertisers and direct marketers generally expect a return of .5 percent response rate when mailing to prospects and a 1.5 percent response rate when reaching current customers. "ShipShapes has the potential to make a significant and dramatic impact on the lagging direct mail sector," says Becker. "In fact, we observed a five- fold increase in response rate from a 15,000 unit ShipShapes pilot test." After a one-year review process, the Postal Rate Commission approved the concept of CMM in June 2003 and it was approved this week by the Board of Governors to enact it. Prior to this new classification, the USPS would permit mailing of an actual product, but prohibited direct mail in anything other than the standard flat, rectangular shape. "In the battle for audience attention, Customized MarketMail will allow business mailers to differentiate their products in the mailstream," says Nick Barranca, vice president of Product Development for the Postal Service. "Within certain size, weight, and thickness limitations, Customized MarketMail can be virtually any shape and design the mailer desires. CMM will let advertisers put their creativity to work, designing their mail pieces to deliver high impact, demand attention, and generate greater response rates." ShipShapes are printed on a plastic specifically engineered to accept ink as well as the best paper stock, while providing a finish with higher gloss. They are designed to flex without creasing and will retain shape after coming out of the mailbox. ShipShapes features 175-line screen lithography printing, up to 4/4 plus spot colors and can be produced with UV clear coats, metallics and other specialty coatings. Costs will vary based on the quantity and mailing list distribution but generally will range between $1 and $3 per item, including postage and drop ship costs. Imageworks will begin accepting ShipShapes orders immediately for an August 10, 2003 implementation date. Beyond the new dimensional qualities, ShipShapes also will be available with magnets and other small devices to increase the chance that the recipient will keep and display the colorful items once in hand.

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