Ad Space – FedEx: When You Absolutely, Positively Aren’t Good Enough

You are now entering Ad Space, a realm of commercials, brought before us so we might examine how they work, and discuss why we both love and hate them so. So it is written …

The Product:
Federal Express

The Promotions:

The Pitch:
Everyone at your office sucks – but we don’t!

These commercials come from different eras, but they all have the same basic message: If you work at an office, you’re gonna have colleagues who are frustratingly incompetent. So it’s a good thing FedEx is so efficient and easy to use. At least there’s one thing those dunderheads at work can’t screw up.

It’s an effective enough pitch, and these ads have a lot of humor to make them stand out and stick in your memory. But what I find interesting is how each of them takes aim at a different level of the corporate hierarchy.

The first ad casts its mockery at upper management, painting them as old and out of touch. But don’t worry! Federal Express is so easy to use, even they can get a grasp on it.

The second ad shifts its focus down to middle management, showing them as useless and abrasive go-betweens. They get their directives from on high, then simply berate those directives into their subordinates, who go on to berate those directives into their own subordinates, and so on and so on, down the line, till the orders finally get to the ground floor worker, who knows all you need to do is call Federal Express.

Then in the third ad, we see a shift. Here, we see the manager as the competent one. It’s the people beneath him who are all staggeringly unhelpful, each in their own way, forcing the manager and FedEx to do all the work themselves.

And in the last ad, we go outside the corporate hierarchy altogether, and instead take potshots at a guy launching a startup business out of his garage. Guy’s clearly meant to be a dink, more concerned with looking the part of a successful business operative than anything else … but FedEx can handle his shipping, so at least he’s got that going for him.

FedEx is casting a broad net here. Individual ads can sympathize with one strata of office workers while satirizing another, but overall they’re trying to appeal to people at all levels, incomes, and job titles. ‘Cause no matter where you’re at in this crazy business world, having to work with a bunch of useless idiots is something we can all relate to.

And if you can’t … it might mean the useless idiot is you.