Royal Mail takes a major step into the digital world with a barcoded video of Shaun the Sheep. Established in 1516, the United Kingdom’s postal service has added barcodes to stamps that let people send videos and virtual messages through the post.
“Introducing unique codes on our postage stamps allows us to connect the physical letter with the digital world and opens up the possibilities for a range of new innovative services in the future,” explained Nick Landon, the Royal Mail chief commercial officer.
In 1840, the world’s first adhesive postage stamp was introduced to the public system in the UK. Called the Penny Black, the stamp featured the profile of Queen Victoria (1819-1901) and allowed letters to be delivered at a flat rate of one penny, regardless of the distance.
Now the humble stamp is receiving a major upgrade. Recipients of letters from Tuesday can watch a video selected by the sender on the Royal Mail app by scanning the unique code attached to the stamp. Eventually customers will be able to send and watch their own videos.
First in the series of videos available to view is an Aardman animation of Shaun the Sheep, created exclusively for the postal service. In the video three sheep nonchalantly chew grass whilst a Royal Mail postal worker loads letters into a van. As soon as her back is turned, the cheeky sheep burst into a quick dance before returning to their sedentary ways.
But fear not, the current British stamp featuring Queen Elizabeth II’s iconic profile (known as the “definitive”) will remain visually the same bar the addition of matching colour barcodes. Non-barcoded definitive stamps and Christmas stamps will remain valid until January 2023.
Thomas Slide, director of media and technology research at Mintel, said “in an increasingly digital world, a physical letter can really stand out, but enabling that letter to link seamlessly to a digital message will offer the best of both worlds.”