Post Office puts £10m behind brand overhaul

The Post Office is to invest up to £10m promoting its outlets as the hub of the community - an attempt to stem a predicted decline in customers.

Potentially launching as early as autumn, the campaign will form a crucial element of the Post Office's attempts to keep the public returning to its 18,000 branches following the automation of benefit payments directly into accounts.

The ad blitz, which is being developed by Publicis and Joshua, the Post Office's creative agencies, will position the network as a retailer that helps consumers fulfil important everyday tasks.

The campaign will promote services such as driving licence and passport applications as well as aggressively highlight its range of travel products.

The Post Office is also keen to highlight the role its staff play in its operations, and is looking at the possibility of featuring Post Office workers in the ads.

The campaign is a response to the government's decision to pay benefits directly to bank accounts, effectively triggering a massive reduction in the income traditionally generated by the Post Office Counters business.

Although the Post Office has launched a Card Account to accept benefit payments, the government has been heavily criticised for investing insufficient resources in marketing the product.

Last week, Royal Mail chairman Allan Leighton attacked the government over the issue, telling a hearing of the Trade and Industry Select Committee that more money should have been invested earlier to ensure the public were aware of the changes.

A separate review is also under way relating to the Post Office's venture into the telecoms sector. As Marketing revealed last month (May 22), the company's commercial marketing director, Simon Carter, has initiated an internal review to determine whether the Post Office can become a major player in the residential telephony market.

The Post Office is also looking at a wider range of products, including a broader portfolio of banking and travel services.

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