Special report: Creativity in outdoor advertising: FedEx: Focus on the world

In this special report, we invited seven creative directors, known for their talent in out-of-home advertising, to identify their favorite piece of outdoor, and then, hypothetically, to 'sell' it to the client - in about 750 words.To make the exercise that...

In this special report, we invited seven creative directors, known for their talent in out-of-home advertising, to identify their favorite piece of outdoor, and then, hypothetically, to ‘sell’ it to the client – in about 750 words.

To make the exercise that much more challenging, we asked them to choose an execution that was not their own.

The objectives of this project were two-fold: to bring examples of great outdoor front and centre; and by analyzing specific executions, to get to the heart of what makes outdoor work.

‘What are the basic tenets, the guiding principles of creating successful outdoor’, we asked the participating creative directors, ‘and how does the chosen billboard, transit shelter or mural abide by, or even transcend, those rules of thumb?’

To get things started, we asked the creative directors to imagine themselves in a meeting with the client, faced with having to pitch their chosen execution.

John McIntyre is partner/creative director at Axmith McIntyre Wicht in Toronto.

‘God is on the side, not of the heavy battalions, but of the best shots.’ – Voltaire

In strategic thrust, audience analysis, creative executions, and media choices, this is a smart campaign.

Strategically, Federal Express would be foolish to go head to head with the dominant player, Purolator, on its home turf, namely Canada.

Instead, it should position itself as, quite simply, the best courier in the world, and the most reliable choice for all u.s. and offshore destinations.

Given the rapid expansion of commerce in this hemisphere – and around the world – it just makes sense to go where the growth is.

Besides which, the yields are significantly higher.

Smart move.

Next, FedEx has drawn a sharp bead on the audience: receptionists, office managers, and, to the extent they must approve these decisions, the corporate executives.

This is a pretty interesting mix, and, again, FedEx has made the right call, electing to project a confidence and sophistication that everyone can relate to, yet, at the same time, highlighting the one area that frontline staff know can be particularly problematic.

Which brings us to the message itself.

All couriers offer essentially the same service.

They’ll deliver your packages from here to there and vice-versa.

All of them have drop boxes.

All of them have fleets of aircraft.

All of them offer some form of bar code tracking.

But, it’s the business of clearing customs where a parcel can get waylaid. And, it’s the frontline staff in frequent shippers who know this.

If FedEx can clear the most diffiucult hurdle, we’re left with the inference that the rest is a cakewalk.

More good thinking.

As for the creative, it’s exemplary.

It’s simple. It’s striking. It’s human.

And, it’s worldly, playing to, but more often off, our stereotypical preconceptions of international customs.

The French smooch. Italians are crazy for soccer. The real capital of America is Hollywood.

You get the picture. And, you’re drawn to the point. Time and again. And look forward to the next.

The photography is stylish, but classic, and the art direction is both clean and straightforward – consistent with the image of the packages, the trucks and the couriers.

FedEx looks like a leader.

Why outdoor?

Another apt choice.

Because, given all of the above, just a handful of pictures and a few well-chosen words will deliver the goods.

The message can be targetted in a highly cost-efficient fashion around the downtown core where the shipping decisions are made.

Courtesy bus shelters, pillar ads, and on backlit posters in the underground city where a couple of hundred thousand office workers walk every day.

Final observation.

Churn, or constant turnover of customers, is endemic in the courier business.

It’s my own sense that a campaign as nifty as this one not only makes the customer feel good about choosing FedEx, it may well do the same thing for the couriers.

Given the guys behind this, I’m not surprised.

Another bull’s eye.