United Parcel Service, Inc.

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United Parcel Service, Inc.


55 Glenlake Parkway NE
Atlanta, Georgia 30328
Telephone: (404) 828-6000
Fax: (404) 828-6562
Web site: www.ups.com



The "Moving at the Speed of Business" campaign was designed to modernize the image of the world's largest package-delivery company, United Parcel Service of America, Inc., commonly known as UPS. Over the years the corporation's advertising had helped it build a solid reputation for the efficient delivery of small parcels and documents, but many consumers were not aware that the company had changed significantly and offered a diverse mix of services and state-of-the-art technology.

The slogan "Moving at the speed of business" referred to the swift delivery of packages but also described the rapid manner in which UPS continually adapted to the changing needs of its business customers. One advertisement in BusinessWeek featured a photograph of a UPS truck parked at the Vatican in Rome, Italy. The headline read, "Fortunately, there's a global delivery service as good as UPS." Some spots in the campaign used humor to show UPS solving problems for its customers. In a television commercial that aired in December 1998, a rebellious elf took Santa's sleigh for a joyride and wrecked it in a snowbank. Stranded at the North Pole, Santa enlisted UPS to save Christmas by delivering presents for him.

"Moving at the Speed of Business" was handled by the New York office of Ammirati Puris Lintas (later renamed Lowe Lintas). It ran in print and broadcast media from 1995 through 2002. But as other shippers, such as FedEx, increased their market share, UPS felt that it was time to highlight what it could do beyond package delivery: supply-chain management, customhouse brokerage, and logistics-technology services. For a number of months UPS went without a tagline before unveiling the "What Can Brown Do for You?" campaign in 2002.


The firm that became United Parcel Service (UPS) was founded in Seattle, Washington, in 1907—an era before the widespread use of telephones and parcel post—when a teenager named James E. Casey established the American Messenger Company to deliver personal messages, luggage, and packages. Casey enlisted a crew of teenage helpers, including his brother George Casey, and funded the operation with $100 borrowed from a friend. The company's first promotional slogan, "Best service and lowest rates," summarized a business philosophy that ensured steady growth. In 1913 the enterprise merged with a competing company operated by Evert McCabe to form Merchants Parcel Delivery, which served many of the area's retail stores. The operation expanded to California and in 1929 launched an air delivery service called United Air Express, but that endeavor was discontinued at the onset of the Great Depression. During the 1930s the company expanded its territory to other states, changed its name to United Parcel Service, and painted its trucks brown to project a professional, dignified image.

In the 1950s UPS began pressing for common carrier rights, which would authorize it to make deliveries for any private or commercial customer in all 48 contiguous states. The company was finally granted that right in 1975, a development that placed it in direct competition with the United States Postal Service, the federal agency that handled most of the nation's mail and parcels. Since 1953 UPS had been offering two-day delivery service to large cities by sending packages in the cargo holds of regularly scheduled airlines and then completing the deliveries by truck, but during the 1980s the company began operating its own fleet of jets and could offer overnight air delivery. By 1998 UPS Airline was one of the 10 largest airlines in the nation, and UPS was the largest express carrier and package-delivery company in the world, delivering small parcels and documents to more than 200 countries and territories.

The industry and the corporation had changed dramatically over the years, but many consumers still perceived UPS as the company with delivery personnel in brown suits driving brown trucks, not a modern enterprise with innovative technology and a broad range of services. The company's advertising slogans had focused on the swift delivery of packages, evolving from "Best service, lowest rates" during the 1970s to "The tightest ship in the shipping business" during the 1980s and "The package delivery company more companies count on" during the early 1990s. In the mid-1990s UPS released a new campaign, "Moving at the Speed of Business," to modernize its image and publicize some of the other services it provided.


The "Moving at the Speed of Business" campaign was designed to explain the company's diverse products and services primarily for business customers. UPS continually invested in sophisticated technology to operate efficiently, maintain competitive prices, and provide state-of-the-art services. For example, by 1998 it was delivering 12.4 million packages and documents every day and had developed a system that could track the progress of each item. Its site on the World Wide Web was the first in the industry to record more than a million tracking requests in one day from consumers inquiring about the status of items they had shipped. One study found that the company transported more than half of the merchandise that consumers ordered over the Internet during the holiday shopping season at the end of 1998. That year 6 of the top 10 merchants selling goods over the Internet shipped their wares via UPS.

The company had expanded into logistics management, which involved the warehousing, distribution, and tracking of merchandise for its customers. These services were useful for businesses that preferred to have merchandise delivered only when it was needed instead of keeping large inventories on hand. UPS also offered professional consulting and financial services. In addition, its Document Exchange product could deliver financial records, medical records, and other documents electronically with a password to protect their security and a certificate to show who received them. In a fast-paced era of expanding Internet commerce, electronic transmissions, and express delivery of packages, companies were changing the way they did business. The "Moving at the Speed of Business" campaign assured consumers that UPS understood those changes and was adapting to meet the needs of its customers.


Near the end of 1998 United Parcel Service was considering a second traveling seminar to follow a successful road show it had conducted two years earlier. Over a period of five months the company had hosted 50 seminars in 34 cities to explain its technology and services directly to some of its most loyal customers. The road show included workshops, face-to-face interaction with customers, and the opportunity for people to try some of the company's equipment. The traveling exhibit cost a few hundred thousand dollars and generated enough sales to recoup that expense within six months. About 90 percent of those who attended said they would recommend the road show to an associate.


The two main competitors for UPS were the United States Postal Service—an independent government agency that monopolized the delivery of first-class mail—and Federal Express Corporation, commonly known as FedEx. In 1997 FedEx had about 43 percent of the market for express delivery services, UPS had 27 percent, Airborne Freight Corporation (commonly known as Airborne Express) had 15 percent, and the Postal Service had 5 percent, according to Fortune magazine. UPS delivered more than express packages, however. Its total sales were about twice as large as FedEx's and a third as large as the Postal Service's. In 1998 the Postal Service had sales of $60.0 billion, UPS had $25.0 billion, and FedEx had $13.3 billion.

During 1998 the Postal Service continued the controversial "What's Your Priority?" advertising campaign, in which it compared its prices with those of UPS and FedEx. One print advertisement featured a graphic depiction of Earth above the headline "Sure, FedEx and UPS may promise you the world. But not for seven bucks." Pictures of the companies' distinctive mailing envelopes were aligned above flat rates for international deliveries. The Postal Service's price was $7, compared with $26 for FedEx and $28 for UPS. An arrow led from the Postal Service's envelope to the slogan "What's your global priority?" The text said that the Postal Service's Global Priority Mail might take a few days longer than delivery by the other two carriers, but it could save the customer up to 70 percent.

FedEx in 1996 had responded to the Postal Service's campaign by launching a series of negative radio advertisements and by filing a lawsuit and complaining to the National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus. UPS also criticized the campaign and in 1998 accused the Postal Service of using unfair operating practices and abusing its status as a government agency to undermine competition from the private sector. The Postal Service discontinued the advertising campaign at about the end of 1998 after negotiating an agreement to end the lawsuit filed by FedEx.

In 1997 FedEx had revenues of $11.5 billion and shipped about 3 million items every day. UPS shipped 10 times that number and had sales of $22.5 billion. In the fall of 1997 FedEx announced that it would merge with Caliber Systems, Inc., a trucking company with sales of $2.7 billion that year. Both firms became subsidiaries of a new holding company, FDX Corporation, but they continued to operate independently during 1998, with FedEx making express deliveries and Caliber Systems carrying nonexpress packages. During the 1970s FedEx had been one of the first companies to offer express shipping, a service that it promoted with the slogan "When it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight." In the late 1990s FedEx used the taglines "The world on time" and "The way the world works" to emphasize that express delivery had become an important part of the way modern companies conducted business. During 1998 the company's slogan was "Be absolutely sure." According to Advertising Age, FedEx spent about $57.4 million on advertising in 1997.


The New York office of Ammirati Puris Lintas developed the "Moving at the Speed of Business" campaign in 1995 to emphasize the information-technology and global services of UPS and to demonstrate that the corporation had changed significantly. UPS had progressed beyond the rapid delivery of packages and could help solve a variety of business problems. "Speed and reliability are now taken for granted in our industry," Peter Fredo, UPS vice president for advertising, said in a press release. "The challenge is to be innovative and flexible enough to bring new solutions and increased information to our customers. Our new tagline reflects the efforts UPS is making in these areas." The first television commercials in the campaign commented that the business environment was changing so rapidly that "the American business day has no beginning, middle, or end" and "business as usual can put you out of business." The spots called attention to the fact that UPS offered guaranteed delivery by 8 a.m. in addition to bar coding, inventory management, and tracking of packages.

A 1998 television commercial named "Ozone Monday" parodied Hollywood action films by showing a UPS deliveryman saving the day for a motion-picture crew frantically trying to work despite overwhelming difficulties. The spot opened with an explosion and a fireball roaring out of the roof of a building. A director shouted orders at the movie's star—an actress with voluminous hair and a bizarre superheroine costume—while the film's harried producer made calls on his cellular telephone. Several scenes followed in quick succession. The heroine clung to a rail, horizontally airborne in a howling wind full of rain and snow. The scene shifted to show her in a futuristic wedding dress, then shifted again to a group of mechanical pigs on wobbling wheels, their spring-loaded heads bobbing and their eyes spinning. Then the actress was shown in her dressing room amid a clutter of New Age paraphernalia, upset because she had not received her shipment of psychic healing tapes. The crisis was solved by the arrival of the UPS delivery-man, package in hand. A female narrator said, "Ozone Monday is going to be big, and you're the producer. But the director, first he wants a monsoon, then a blizzard, so you call UPS. You need the gowns for the wedding in three days; the metal pigs, second day by noon; and the star's psychic healing tapes—thank you—8 a.m.! Is there a happy ending? Two words—acceptance speech." The commercial concluded with a shot of the producer receiving an award for the film.

An advertisement that ran in Fortune magazine in August 1998 featured a large photograph of a two-lane highway running across open, rolling hills and past a distant city. The headline said, "Route 66. The Pacific Coast Highway. I-95. All freshly paved with the same guarantee. Introducing Guaranteed Ground. Only from UPS." The text explained that UPS guaranteed it would deliver packages to any business address nationwide by the day it was promised. The ad concluded with the slogan "Moving at the speed of business" and the company's logo, Internet address, and toll-free telephone number.

Some of the first television spots in the campaign aired during coverage of the 1996 Olympic Summer Games, professional basketball and golf competitions, and network television programs such as 60 Minutes and the NBC Sunday Movie. Print advertisements appeared in the Wall Street Journal, BusinessWeek, Newsweek, USA Today, and other publications. Advertising Age reported that UPS spent $85.2 million on advertising in 1998, up 30.4 percent from $65.3 million in 1997. Of that amount, $65.4 million went for television commercials (a 52.4 percent increase) and $17.9 million for print advertisements.

The "Moving at the Speed of Business" campaign featured new executions in 1999. In a television spot called "Printer" a narrator said, "Imagine if people could just order things online and out they came." The spot showed scuba-diving equipment, a trombone, a water-cooler, and a football being delivered through a computer printer. It ended with the conclusion that, in the real world, "The best way to get stuff off the Web is UPS." The tagline featured a new twist on the old slogan: "Moving at the speed of e-business."

UPS began in the new century to pivot away from the "Moving at the Speed of Business" theme, which pigeonholed the company as nothing more than a fast shipper. In reality, UPS now offered a wide range of logistical services to customers that many were simply not aware of. In 2000 UPS aired a spot called "Consultants," which featured a pair of slick consultants offering several business nostrums: integrate your global supply chain, move assembly overseas, accelerate inventory velocity. But when the client told them, "Do it," one consultant had to admit, "We don't actually do what we propose," and the other added, "We just propose it." A voice-over then delivered the new message: "UPS can help redesign your supply chain…. We deliver more than just packages." At the time UPS went without a tagline, as the television spots shown during the 2000 Olympics in Sydney focused on nondelivery services. The company also changed its advertising agency of record, dropping Lowe Lintas after 17 years in favor of the Martin Agency of Richmond, Virginia.


In October 1998 a Fortune survey named UPS as the most admired delivery company in the world. In February 1999 another survey by Fortune cited UPS as America's most admired mail, package, and freight company. It was the 16th time the firm had received the honor. In a press release Jim Kelly, the chairman and chief executive officer of UPS, commented, "You don't earn that distinction for 16 consecutive years by resting on your laurels. UPS is working every day to help its customers stay ahead of the absolutely stunning pace of change in today's business world, especially in areas such as electronic commerce. That's why, for example, we spend more than a billion dollars a year on information technology." UPS reported revenues of $24.8 billion in 1998, up from $22.5 billion in 1997 and $19.6 billion in 1994. The company delivered 3.14 billion packages and documents in 1998 compared with 3.04 billion in 1997 and 3.03 billion in 1994.

Aided by a UPS strike in 1997, the competition was beginning to nip at the heels of UPS by the turn of the millennium, prompting a change in marketing strategy and a repositioning of the brand. No longer did it make sense to promote UPS as a shipper; it needed to be seen as a solutions provider, with shipping being just one service it offered. After several months of development UPS unveiled a new campaign and tagline in early 2002: "What Can Brown Do for You?" The new effort took advantage of the signature brown color of its trucks and drivers' uniforms to promote all that UPS had to offer customers beyond package delivery. The "Moving at the Speed of Business" campaign had adequately served its purpose, but, in a sense, the speed of business now dictated a change of course for a UPS looking to remain ahead of the pack.


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                                         Susan Risland

                                            Ed Dinger



In January 2002 United Parcel Service, Inc. (UPS), enjoyed a clear lead over FedEx, its major competitor, in the ground delivery business. At the same time, as part of a major rebranding campaign, UPS wanted to move beyond package delivery to include a variety of related services. To prepare for the impending rebranding, UPS launched the biggest U.S. advertising endeavor in its history. The high-priced, multilevel "What Can Brown Do for You?" campaign was intended to reveal fully what the company's growing capabilities were for just about anyone in nearly every aspect of the delivery business. In this way the campaign asked customers to look to the future. At the same time, with the focus on brown, the color the company had been associated with since its beginning in 1907, UPS was also reminding customers of its long heritage.

The "What Can Brown Do for You?" campaign, developed by the Martin Agency, debuted in January 2002 with such television spots as "Mailroom Guy," "Logistics Manager," "Shipping Manager," and "CEO." The first ads reflected the all-inclusive approach UPS wanted to convey. According to the spots, no matter where somebody fell on the managerial ladder, UPS could help that person. Later, in August 2002, the campaign shifted direction with the introduction of a new line of spots that focused on UPS employees. The emphasis in this later advertising varied from the recruitment of new employees to the commitment of UPS and its employees to the community. In "Keith Jones," for example, UPS outlined a worker's eventual advancement from part-time employee to corporate health and safety manager. In another spot, "Scholarship," a high school graduate explained how the company, through a tuition and assistance program called "Earn and Learn," had helped her realize her dream of attending college. The "What Can Brown Do for You?" campaign had its debut during the telecast of the opening ceremony of the 2002 Olympic Winter Games and appeared later that year during the Academy Awards. The spots were also broadcast on other sports, news, and entertainment programs during prime time. During 2002 alone more than 10 television commercials were released, and there was a national print promotion, all of which cost UPS $45 million.

The "What Can Brown Do for You?" campaign successfully set the stage for the rebranding efforts that followed. The campaign's television spots spoke directly to potential customers, and the customer base grew, as did sales. By the end of fiscal 2003 domestic revenue for UPS had increased by more than $1 billion, while international revenue had increased by just under $1 billion, or 25 percent. The "Synchronizing the World of Commerce" campaign that followed in 2003 further aided UPS in achieving its financial goals, but it was "What Can Brown Do for You?" that prepared the way for the global campaign.


UPS traced its origins to the American Messenger Company, which was founded in Seattle in 1907. The company ran errands, delivered packages, and carried notes, baggage, and trays of restaurant food, mostly to local businesses. The American Messenger Company thrived, even without major advertising efforts. In 1913 the company bought its first delivery car, a Model T Ford, and inscribed its new name, Merchants Parcel Delivery, on the side. The inscription represented one of the company's few early advertising endeavors. In 1919 the company took its third name, United Parcel Service, or UPS, and moved beyond Seattle, to California. By this time UPS had chosen brown as the color for its delivery vehicles and uniforms. The color, of course, later gave its name to the advertising campaign "What Can Brown Do for You?"

Throughout the years UPS expanded rapidly, first to the East Coast and later overseas. By the 1940s the company was delivering more than 100 million packages a year. In 1946 UPS reached the landmark of its billionth package delivered. Still, there was no national advertising campaign in the United States for more than 35 years. The first such campaign, "UPS Saves You Money from the Ground Up," was launched in 1982. This national campaign, which focused on the company's cost-effectiveness, was heavily marketed toward the business world. The campaign was replaced in 1985 by "We Run the Tightest Ship in the Shipping Business," with business once again the target market. This focus continued through the next three campaigns, which included "The Package Delivery Company More Companies Count On" (1993), "Moving at the Speed of Business" (1995), and, finally, "What Can Brown Do for You?" (2002).

Just as advertising campaigns for UPS were slow to develop, so the company's logos changed only gradually. Within the span of almost a century, UPS had used just four logos. The first, showing an eagle on a shield, appeared in 1919, and those that followed represented minor changes on this. The third logo, which appeared in 1961, showed a bow-tied package above the UPS shield. Following the launching of the "What Can Brown Do for You?" campaign in 2002, UPS abandoned the package, which had been used for more than 40 years. The new logo, like those that had preceded it, continued to use brown as the trademark color.


With more than 8 million people using its services every day, the UPS customer base was wide ranging. While individual consumers made up a portion of the base, businesses were a clear majority. Because businesses, the people who worked in them, and the jobs they did were diverse, the company's advertising aimed for a wide appeal. Thus, the "What Can Brown Do for You?" campaign was used to remind people at all levels of a business how UPS could be of help to them. In addition, the employee-centered ads, which touted the benefits of working for UPS, served as an attempt to recruit part-time workers.

Although UPS aimed for diversity in its approach, research on the campaign concluded that the advertisements were most effective with those in senior management positions. When, therefore, UPS created a new corporate tagline for use in a global rebranding effort, it focused on this group. The result was "Synchronizing the World of Commerce," a large-scale international print and television campaign that succeeded "What Can Brown Do for You?" Directed toward senior management, the print ads in this later campaign ran throughout the world, with television spots airing in a total of 144 countries.


The competition between UPS and FedEx was well known in the business world. In 2003, in response to UPS advertising, FedEx responded with a major marketing effort of its own. Its campaign, "Relax, It's FedEx," was launched during the season-opening telecast of ABC's Monday Night Football. The campaign included eight television spots that highlighted various FedEx services, including air, ground, freight, and international shipping. Its message to customers was that, if they were using FedEx, as opposed to, say, UPS, they would have peace of mind.

FedEx had earlier begun to encroach on UPS's prime market, especially when it purchased Caliber Systems, a major competitor in ground delivery. In addition, in what was labeled a "copy-cat move," FedEx purchased Kinko's soon after UPS had acquired Mail Boxes Etc. Still, UPS maintained a significant lead in the ground delivery business and, at the same time, proved more than competitive in other ways. Between 2002 and 2004, for example, total revenue for UPS ranged from $31 to $36.5 billion. This far exceeded revenue for FedEx, which during the same years never broke out of the $20 billion range.


The website captionmachine.com asked people to submit captions for various humorous photos. One photo, entitled "UPS and FedEx Crash," captured an accident between the two companies' trucks. A total of 158 people submitted captions for the photo, including "FedEx + UPS = Fedup," "There can be only one," and "What can Brown do for you today?"

Other UPS competitors included the United States Postal Service (USPS), the independent government agency that had nearly $70 billion in revenue in 2004. Still, much of the USPS's revenue was derived from the mailing of nonurgent mail, such as cards and letters, a service on which it held a monopoly. Its package delivery service, on the other hand, faced fierce competition from UPS and FedEx, as well as from the fast-growing DHL, the world's leader in cross-border express deliveries. DHL's overall revenue growth of nearly 8 percent in 2004, along with $30 billion in sales, made it a serious competitor. With its large-scale print and online advertising and a broadcast campaign that ran during the 2004 Olympic Games—in which the company promoted its Express Delivery Service in the United States—DHL created increasing competition for UPS.


The century-long heritage of UPS, embodied in the color brown, was something that could itself be marketed. The company's brown trucks and uniforms had long ago become an American icon, comparable to the Coca-Cola script or the Nike swoosh. Thus, in February 2002 UPS, under the guidance of the Martin Agency in Virginia, launched the "What Can Brown Do for You?" campaign. It was the largest and the most expensive U.S. advertising campaign in the company's history, yet only its fifth ever. The campaign debuted during the telecast of the opening ceremony of the 2002 Olympic Winter Games and later appeared during another high-profile event, the Academy Awards. In addition, the spots ran during prime-time sports, news, and entertainment programming, and print ads were also used. UPS spent a total of $45 million on the campaign.

The television spots in the "What Can Brown Do for You?" campaign were designed to work on different levels. The initial spots emphasized diversity, with titles such as "Small Business," "My Business," "CEO," "CFO," "Logistics Manager," "Shipping Manager," and "Mailroom Guy." The spots represented UPS's desire to convey to everyone, from CEOs to mailroom employees, what the company could do for them. In essence UPS wanted to assure people that, no matter what their position within a company, it could make their lives easier and help them do their work and achieve their professional goals. Later in 2002 UPS launched an extension of the "What Can Brown Do for You?" campaign. These later spots highlighted the experiences of representative employees, with the intent being to recruit part-time workers and to tout UPS's commitment to the community. In one such spot, "Road Trip," a 20-something employee explained how the company's generous starting wage and weekends-off policy allowed him to attend concerts with friends. Meanwhile, a more community-focused spot portrayed a UPS regional manager who had completed four weeks in the company's Community Internship Program, which benefited struggling communities throughout the United States. Thus, the campaign as a whole aimed to connect customers with UPS's longstanding commitment to the business world, to individual employees, and to communities.

While the "What Can Brown Do for You?" campaign worked to help customers make a connection with the company's past, it also directed them to look forward. By emphasizing the company's ever-growing capabilities, the campaign served as a springboard for an aggressive rebranding of UPS. The company wanted to move beyond package delivery to include services in logistics, freight forwarding, customs clearance, technology, and finance. As a result, between 1998 and 2004 UPS had made 28 acquisitions, including the purchase of Mail Boxes Etc. To highlight its rebranding, UPS introduced a new logo in 2003, abandoning the brown-and-white bow-tied package that had been used for 40 years. While the new logo kept the signature brown shield, it dropped the package, thus symbolizing the company's growth into areas other than delivery services. The transformation was to continue through 2009, by which time UPS would have changed every existing logo, something that involved thousands of vehicles, 250 aircraft, 1,700 facilities, 70,000 drop-off and retail boxes, and more than 1 million uniforms.


"What we found was that not even we—brown-bleeding UPS'ers—had completely understood the power of 'brown' and the connection audiences have with it," said a company spokesperson. Thus, one indication of the success of the "What Can Brown Do for You?" campaign was that the unspoken message, centering on the color brown, was perhaps as significant than the spoken one. Still, the advertisements served as a means of getting the UPS message across.

The "What Can Brown Do for You?" campaign appeared to be successful in setting the stage for the rebranding campaign that followed in 2003. By portraying the diverse customer base of UPS, the television spots in the campaign helped to draw in new customers. The global "Synchronizing the World of Commerce" campaign that followed used research derived from the effectiveness of the "What Can Brown Do for You?" campaign, allowing UPS to determine that its new international advertising would be most effective if targeted toward those in senior management positions. Further, the early success of the UPS rebranding prompted another global advertising campaign, "Deliver More," which was launched in 2005. This campaign focused on the company's international package delivery services and, in the spirit of the rebranding efforts, highlighted the ability of UPS to use its wide range of capabilities to make it easier to conduct business internationally.

The "What Can Brown Do for You?" campaign was accompanied by improvements in UPS finances. At the end of fiscal year 2002, UPS's domestic revenue was virtually stagnant. By the end of fiscal year 2003, however, U.S. revenue had increased by more than $1 billion, from $23.9 to more than $25 billion. Further, international revenue for UPS increased by approximately 25 percent in 2003, from $4.6 to $5.5 billion. Overall 2003 revenue for the company increased more than $2 billion compared to the previous year. This success was seen as being largely a product of the rebranding efforts. UPS needed to lay the groundwork, which including reminding customers of its heritage, before it could effectively spread its rebranding message, however, and it was the "What Can Brown Do for You?" campaign that succeeding in doing this.


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                                            Candice Mancini

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