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Audit of Priority Mail’s ads: Doesn’t ‘fit’
Postal Service split expenses
“Potter said advertising has ‘lifted all ships;’ specifically, standard mail, first class packages and parcel post profits have grown,” investigators wrote.
Mr. Potter also said the practice of splitting ad costs between the specific product being promoted and “institutional/brand” costs doesn’t violate the spirit of the postal law and does not break any rules, investigators added.
Robert Bernstock, former president of shipping and mailing services, said during his interview that he did not know about the media and advertising group’s accounting practices to split expenses between product and institutional budgets, but that he had meetings with Mr. Potter and Mr. Corbett about “attributing expenses to reflect the rise in the Postal Service’s brand.”
Greg Seraydarian, senior vice president and group management supervisor for the Postal Service, told investigators that a person whose name was redacted in documents provided to The Times instructed him in October 2008 to “utilize the ‘brand’ expense line when charging the Postal Service for advertising task orders.”
Records show he told investigators he was required to split the cost with the “brand” receiving 30 percent of the cost, regardless of the task order. He also said that in the Priority Mail campaign, he determined the split by reviewing the contents of initial television commercials.
“While watching the commercial, he looked for an identifiable icon that was not product-specific, such as the Postal Service vehicle, carrier, etc.,” investigators later wrote in a memo summarizing their interview with Mr. Seraydarian.
“Seraydarian advised the split was an estimate, not a ‘science,’ and the percentage could fluctuate.”
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