FedEx Skips Super Bowl, Opts for Online Video

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Fed-Ex has thumbed their nose at the old guard way of advertising early in the year and instead opted for online video. So don’t hold your breath on the uber-cool Fed-Ex Super Bowl commercial as it just won’t be there. Does this mark a major shift from broadcast to online?

Fed-Ex has had a Super Bowl spot for about the last 20 years. This year they will not. That’s a sudden and major shift for the package delivery giant. They have even had ads rated “most memorable” and won several awards over that span. Fed-Ex has put part of the blame on the state of the economy saying they just couldn’t see it being a justifiable expense.

This will make for an interesting year at the Super Bowl. Remember those old commercials that said when Merrill Lynch spoke, people listened. Well how about when Fed-Ex acts, people follow…

Next Monday Fed-Ex will unveil the first online video in its new campaign. They will have five three-minute short films featuring Fred Willard that they hope will spread virally across the web. Of the campaign Willard said it felt more like sketch comedy than commercial.

The premise of this first round of ads is a humorous infomercial look at Fed-Ex and its services. Even though they are poking fun at the infomercial genre they are taking on many of the attributes including the ability to include far more information than the standard television 30 or 60-second spots. The videos will appear on a dedicated YouTube channel, and on FedEx’s own Web site.

The campaign could end up being a ‘make or break’ deal for them as they have recently posted massive losses ($876M) based on high fuel and low economic situations.

Steve Pacheco, director of advertising at FedEx, said,

“we’re still very involved in television, especially with all our sports and sponsorship support But digital advertising and communication is taking a bigger role in the overall plan, because we try to scale our media plan to be where our customers are.” (Source: N Y Times)

That TV presence may or may not include a future spot at the Super Bowl, but with the $3M price tag for a 30-second shot it seems unlikely. The amount of advertising they can do online for that same amount is probably astronomical in relation.

In fact, Tod Sacerdoti, CEO of Brightroll, said, “this is a great sign for the industry.” He doesn’t believe that it will be an instant gold rush but that it shows the higher value of a more targeted, more frequent online audience is becoming apparent, at least to Fed-Ex.

Of course it could still be an absolute failure if they just take all the $3M and put it into creative and not media buy.

“A similar ratio of media spend to production cost should be consistent on either broadcast or online. You just get a lot more for your money online in regards to media buying,” said Tod.

Sure that $3 million dollars might net you 50 to 100 million views, but will many of those people ever have a use for the product? That’s something that’s always been a question with the Super Bowl. Perhaps this is the first step in a larger move online and with a big name like Fed-Ex taking the leap many others will be watching and waiting to see how it goes.


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