These days, when discussions about the mail turn to worries about anthrax, it's refreshing to have a positive experience with the post office. Consider the experience of Walter Derzko, who was making arrangements for a new client to pick him up at the airport. Derzko sent a picture to avoid any mix-ups. But the photo wasn't just inside the envelope. It was also outside, as an official Canadian stamp. "I thought my client would get a kick out of seeing my face on a stamp," says Derzko, who is the president of a Toronto-based association called NewBizDev.org. "I did."
Talk about your special delivery. Back in April 2000, Canada Post inaugurated a program called Picture Postage. Who needs stamps featuring Pierre Trudeau or Queen Elizabeth II? In Canada, all you need is a G-rated photo and CAN$24.95, and the post office will create stamps that feature you, your kids, or your pets. There are five design templates to choose from, and normal turnaround time is 15 business days. Each stamp costs about double the price of generic first-class postage.
The premium price was worth it for Alyson Rudkins, a benefits administrator for Hewitt Associates, who surprised her father with a sheet of personalized stamps for Christmas. The star of the stamp? Dad himself. "I've always felt like I should be on a stamp," cracks 73-year-old Bill Rudkins. "I've had a distinguished career, I'm a good-looking guy, and I have more hair than Trudeau."
Of the 1.5 million stamps processed through Picture Postage, the most popular subjects have been wedding couples, babies, and pets, according to Jim Phillips, marketing manager for stamp products at Canada Post. "Stamps have always been held in high regard," says Phillips. "They're like miniature works of art. If you see someone you know on a stamp, you can't help but smile."
To learn more about Picture Postage, visit Canada Post on the Web (www.canadapost.ca).
A version of this article appeared in the January 2002 issue of Fast Company magazine.