Boycott Watch
August 30, 2006
US FirstGov.Gov Ad Portrays False Information About ZIP Codes
Summary: Ads by the US Government should not contain false information, regardless if the intent was to make an entertaining ad or not.
    While some may like the new radio ad promoting the website, the fact is that the US is trying to promote that website as a way for people to get factual information about the US and the US Government. So, we ask, why should an ad for the website contain false information?

   The ad in question mentions President Abraham Lincoln and how he should have used ZIP codes but did not. The fact is that President Lincoln served as the nations sixteenth President from March 4, 1861 until he was assassinated on April 15, 1865, or about 98 years before ZIP Codes were implemented on July 1, 1963.

   ZIP stands for Zoning Improvement Plan, and was implemented when mail transportation and delivery were entering a new age that required a better transportation and delivery system. Previously, mail delivery used, but did not require, a two digit number following the city that designated the local post office building. An example of this would be a letter with a street address followed by a city line such as "Cleveland, Ohio 13."

   The 1963 ZIP plan, featuring a mail carrier cartoon known as Mr. ZIP, converted the two digit system into a 5 digit number identifying the specific postal building from which carrier delivery would be managed. The letter above would now end with "Cleveland, Ohio 44113." The current system, called ZIP+4, was created in 1963 to identify the specific carrier delivery route.

   In essence, the US Government, in its quest to promote a website to give out facts has created a false lore in its advertisement. If the US wants to promote a service to get facts out, it should start by telling the truth.

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