FedEx will not advertise in the 2009 Super Bowl


Fed Ex Director of Advertising Steve Pacheco posted the following statement on the company’s website, as part of major cost cutting moves in place at the company–which include suspending 401k matches, suspending bonuses and salaried pay cuts:

“Make no mistake, our advertising presence in 18 Super Bowls since 1989 has strategically allowed FedEx to establish itself as a household name.  And it is indisputable that the Super Bowl is the only single event where an advertiser can reach a global audience of this size . . . last year almost 98 million people watched the game.

FedEx has become synonymous with Super Bowl advertising and we’ve had some amazing marketing moments.  To name a few, giant carrier pigeons wreaked havoc and tossed cars in our CGI city, the Stanley Cup wound up in Bolivia, we learned that the cherished Castaway package contained a survival kit, blank color bars surprised all when we learned the network did not use FedEx one year and the EMMY award-winning “Stick,” featuring the FedEx cave men, showed us that FedEx rocked the prehistoric age.

But times have changed.

As a country, we are in unprecedented economic waters.  And as a responsible employer of more than 290,000 employees and contractors worldwide, there is a time to justify such an ad spend and a time to step back. 

As FedEx employees, we, like millions of people at other companies, are being asked to do more with less.  Our most vital asset is the thousands of FedEx team members who truly enable the world to work, absolutely, positively, every day.  In the ultimate medium when where the message is king, being in the game simply sends the wrong message both to employees and other FedEx constituents.  A Super Bowl ad buy is not where we should put dollars at this time although, in the past, the value of doing so for FedEx has been indisputable. 

I’m proud to say that we’ve had quite the run.  FedEx has talked directly with hundreds of millions of customers over the years through the Super Bowl and launched the FedEx brand in some incredibly funny and memorable ways. 

We look very forward to the time when it makes sense for FedEx to advertise in the Super Bowl again.  For now, it’s just time for us to call a time out.”
BBDO NY is FedEx’s AOR. The company spent $99 million on media in the US for the first 10 months of the year (not including online) after $160 million in 2007, according to Nielsen Monitor-Plus.

RBR/TVBR observation: As Fed Ex CEO Frederick Smith said in a video on the company website, “FedEx is like a barometer of the world economy.” He also said the company is in “uncharted territory when it comes to this economy.” We hope the iconic SuperBowl advertiser isn’t so much a barometer for all global advertising as well, but it’s looking that way, isn’t it? The good news is perhaps much of the savings on the SuperBowl ad spend will be spent elsewhere.