FedEx goes American Ninja Warrior for the holidays

The delivery company is showing it can meet the challenge of huge shipping volumes, if Canadians do their part and ship early.

FedEx has been referring to this year’s longer-than-normal holiday shopping season as a “shipathon,” and its new campaign aims to show that it is ready for the rigours that is going to bring with it.

In a national bilingual campaign, FedEx is reminding consumers to “shop and ship early” to ensure their purchases arrive in time in a year when parcel volumes are expected to hit unprecedented levels. For its part, the spot shows one of its delivery personnel competing (and winning) on an American Ninja Warrior-styled obstacle course race.

The “Shipathon” campaign also encourages Canadians to manage their deliveries using tools like FedEx Delivery Manager to redirect parcels to secure retail pick-up locations like Staples or providing special instructions for at-home delivery to avoid porch piracy. The campaign includes media activations across social, digital display, video, audio streaming and TV.

“We wanted to assure Canadians we’re in peak condition for this endurance race, we’re prepared for the hurdles ahead,” says Ann-Marie McIntosh, VP of marketing, corporate communications and customer experience at FedEx Canada.

“What’s unique about this year is that as a shipping and logistics company, we do not need to convince people to ship,” she adds, citing FedEx insights revealing that 35% of Canadians who’ve never shopped online for holiday gifts, intend to do so this year, which means shipping needs are challenging industry capacity.

With record-breaking shipping levels and a short shipping window to ensure packages arrive before the holidays, she says, the brand knew it had to start communicating with its customers and be in market earlier than before. The goal is less about driving consideration and awareness, and more about shifting consumer behaviour in a way that got them to ship in a way that would help operations run smoothly, as well as setting expectations for a busy season and supporting ecommerce customers.

FedEx has projected that shipping volumes it was expecting to hit by 2026 will now be reached within three years. As a result, its business had to “ramp up tremendously to meet this demand,” McIntosh says.

The campaign was adapted from U.S. creative, but for a Canada-specific execution, FedEx is in the midst of a national promotion running until Dec. 21, focused on driving sold-over-counter shipments at Staples, tapping paid social to offer customers who visit Staples and ship with FedEx a chance to win a $1,000 Staples gift card.

According to McIntosh, the partnership is based on insights showing that one third of Canadian online shoppers have been a victim of a package theft by so-called “porch pirates,” a major pain point that shipping to a secure Staples location can address.

BBDO NYC was the primary lead on strategy and creative, collaborating with its Toronto counterparts on the adaptation. On the media strategy and activation side, FedEx worked with OMD and Edelman, which also supported the campaign’s national earned media outreach to help bring the campaign to life.