Relax, It''s a FedEx Ad

Relax, It''s a FedEx Ad

Copyright 2003, Traffic World, Inc.

A slovenly, shirtless man, a railing Chinese businessman and an arrogant MBA holder are three characters FedEx Corp. has introduced in a new $90 million ad campaign. Expected to run through the second quarter of 2004, the campaign aims chiefly to promote FedEx''s growing ground operations.

The series of eight ads began running on Sept. 4 during the first National Football League game of the season, played at the Washington Redskins'' home FedEx Field in suburban Washington, D.C. The 30-second television spots all feature the campaign''s tagline, "Relax. It''s FedEx."

The spots aim to engender confidence in FedEx delivery, especially deliveries via means other than air express, which traditionally has been the meat and potatoes of the Memphis-based company''s business.

"Reliability is still what our brand stands for more than anything else," Laurie Tucker, FedEx senior vice president for global marketing, said.

The campaign marks the first time FedEx has featured FedEx Freight and FedEx Home Delivery in its television advertising. The home delivery commercial features an irate FedEx customer blasting a calm FedEx call center employee because a FedEx delivery arrived when it was promised, when the customer was performing his morning grooming ritual. The spot, like all in the campaign, has a punch line. In this case, the employee apologizes for making a delivery at the promised time.

In the Fedex Freight ad, a harried warehouse employee requests that a FedEx delivery be dropped on his desk, not realizing that the shipment has arrived on a pallet and is being moved with a forklift.

BBDO of New York, FedEx''s lead ad agency of 14 years, created the ads.

FedEx Vice President of U.S. Marketing Brian Philips would not divulge the cost of the campaign, which also includes radio and print advertising. In recent years, FedEx has focused on sports advertising through its NFL sponsorships, as well as being a sponsor of the PGA golf tour, Orange Bowl and Memphis Grizzlies professional basketball team. The company has extended its NFL sponsorship through 2006.

"We rely heavily on sports to reach the decision makers in our industry," Philips said. "We can track a return on investment for each and every sponsorship property we engage with." The company also is increasingly turning to cable television, both cable news and specialty channels such as A&E and Home and Garden television, to reach its audience.

Chief FedEx competitor United Parcel Service routinely outspends FedEx in advertising, according to data provided by TNS Media Intelligence/CNR, a research firm that tracks corporate advertising dollars. In 2002, UPS spent $163.8 million on advertising, versus $84.6 million for FedEx, according to TNS. For UPS, that was an 83 percent increasing in advertising spending over 2001 and a 24 percent increase over what it spent in 2000, according to TNS data. FedEx increased its advertising spending by 4 percent in 2002 over 2001 and decreased by 2 percent compared with 2000 spending.

Addison Branding & Communications Principal Alan Brew said UPS''s rebranding campaign has necessitated an expensive ad campaign to reposition the company in the parcel delivery market. Brew, who is based in San Francisco, praised the new FedEx campaign.

"It''s a much better campaign than the previous one, which was a bit too complicated, a bit too muddled in terms of what the takeaway was for the viewer," Brew said. "It plays beautifully to FedEx''s personality as a much more human company."