I just saw a television commercial sponsored by the United States Postal Service, and although I am not surprised by the lack of forward thinking, I am shaking my head that the USPS just doesn’t get it.
The advertisement (during primetime MLB playoffs) begins with a disheveled looking man walking onto a bus and choosing a seat next to a woman. He begins by informing her that she just won a random lottery sponsored by a clearly fictitious organization. To claim the multi-million dollar prize, all she needs to do is write the man a check to cover some random fees. Essentially, the man is playing the part of an in-person Nigerian scammer commonly seen online.
It is a clever advertisement (and ongoing campaign) playing on the fact that these scams are much more obvious in person than online, and people need to beware when they receive suspicious emails. I dig the message. I think it is very important for non-web savvy people to know about these scams, know how to spot them, and know what to do when they come across one.
HOWEVER, the commercial ends with a large graphic directing people to visit FakeChecks.org for more information. GUESS WHAT! FakeChecks.COM is owned by someone else. How many people do you think will accidentally directly navigate to the .com in error – especially considering some web browsers automatically enter the .com extension? The USPS should never have used a .org domain name where the .com is taken. If they needed to have that specific .org, they should have bought the .com for whatever it cost. They then should have forwarded the .com traffic to the .org so they didn’t lose any eyes. The advertising campaign probably cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Why would they chance sending confused consumers to the wrong domain name, especially considering the message.
This has to be one of the most ironic, idiotic campaigns I’ve seen in a long time. The USPS just doesn’t get it!
Just to be a bit more clear, I am not advocating that the USPS shouldn’t have used a .org. I think the .org suits this campaign quite well. I think they might have been wise to choose another domain name where the .com was available, as people will inevitably enter the wrong extension. In my opinion, many consumers are trained to goto the “.com” extension. Why take a chance that some consumers will do this and end up on a site not controlled by the USPS.