Let me tell you a story…..
It’s not widely known but Mr. ZIP didn’t start his career with the Post Office, he was originally in banking.
The character that would ultimately become Mr. ZIP was created for Chase Manhattan Bank by Howard Wilcox (son of a letter carrier) of the Cunningham & Walsh Advertising Agency in the 1950s.
Chase Manhattan Era
While at the bank Mr. ZIP worked in a few different areas.
In 1958, the Chase Manhattan Bank was launching something no one had really done before, a charge account that they called the Chase Manhattan Charge Plan (CMCP). This was a precursor to the credit cards we use today. They asked Mr. ZIP to help them promote the new CMCP program.
Not only was Mr. ZIP tasked to help out but he got his entire family involved. Advertisements ran throughout the 1950s featuring Mr. & Mrs. ZIP along with their children.
After Mr. ZIP was done with the CMCP program he was tasked with working on Chase’s Bank-by-Mail program. It was here, dressed in his new uniform, that he became the Mr. ZIP we are familiar with.
American Telephone & Telegraph (AT&T) Era
Once Chase Manhattan Bank retired the campaign the character, it was acquired by American Telephone and Telegraph Company (AT&T). It’s unclear why or how it happened but the Chairman of the Board for AT&T Frederick Kappel, was also on the board of Chase Manhattan Bank so I’d have to assume he was the driving force for the acquisition.