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FedEx television ad mocks social media use and strategists

FedEx has a new web and television ad that urges small businesses not to use social media, rather use FedEx to expand business, despite their own massive investment in social media marketing.



FedEx mocks social media to boost business

In a new video launched for web and television, FedEx implies that social media is an intern’s job and that digital efforts are silly and pointless, therefore, small businesses shouldn’t focus on social networking, rather on the product or service they offer, and of course, they should use FedEx services to expand their business instead.

While the ad touches on the truth that many social media guru ninja sensei warriors are little more than unemployed flunkies (that charge big bucks to tell people how to set up a Facebook page in hopes that “likes” will magically convert into paying customers), it instantaneously mocks an entire industry, including their own social media team:

[pl_video type=”youtube” id=”e17hOzO4lWs”]

Hypocritical: FedEx is highly invested in their own social media

For three years, Renee Horn was the Director of Digital and Social Media Engagement at FedEx Services before moving on recently to USAA. Interviewed by PRDaily, she explained that the company had accepted social media as a policy and were even forward-thinking enough to instill in the team that the social media efforts belong to consumers, as they were using the social media platforms to connect with consumers, engage employees, and of course, manage crises.

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Horne noted that in order to get its employees on board with social media, FedEx’s team realized they needed to go a lot deeper than just one hourlong workshop. So team members ended up developing an online curriculum with 17 courses. In about 18 months, more than 500 employees had completed the coursework.

“This is probably one of the best investments we could have ever made,” she said.

Matching traditional media messages with digital

The 30 second ad spot conflicts with the message sent internally by FedEx to employees, hundreds of whom were required to take extensive social media education, and several of whom were sent to conferences to speak about their social media efforts, and so forth.

Additionally, the company clearly spent a great deal of time, money, and energy into the creation of and promotion of The Enchanted Forest Facebook app which allows users to interact and learn more about how environmentally friendly FedEx is. The company is present on all social networks and have teams monitoring and interacting there.

Ad is puzzling at best, insulting at worst

The hypocrisy between their television ads and how much they’ve invested in their social media is puzzling at best and insulting at worst. Not only has the company demeaned their own social media team, equating them to 19 year old idiots, but they have insulted social media strategists and companies using social networking in their marketing, not to mention the target audience itself. While many social media “experts” are in fact as ignorant about social media as the kids shown in the video, the ad seems senseless and aimed more at getting a laugh and an eye roll than engaging customers.

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Alternatively, is this the work of an ad agency using FedEx’s brand and notoriety to push its own agenda with competitors, namely digital media firms? Also hypocritical is the fact that the advertising industry was slow to adopt social media and engaged social media persons to help with many modern campaigns.

Either FedEx chose to take a risk and insult social media strategists and companies using social networking platforms, or an ad agency is quietly indoctrinating viewers against social media strategists. Perhaps it is all innocent, but it does raise some interesting questions. [/span10][/row]

Lani is the COO and News Director at The American Genius, has co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH, Austin Digital Jobs, Remote Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.



  1. Kevin Tomlinson

    February 12, 2013 at 5:51 am

    oh m g. don’t be so sensitive. You didn’t invent SM. Have fun with it…all mother of social media. Sheeze.. There is a lot to be made fun of….Like people taking Facebook too seriously…ahem.

  2. Michael Bray

    February 12, 2013 at 8:39 am

    Me thinks thou doth protest too much!
    There is more than a grain of truth in their message. Many technologies, including some social media platforms are merely a ‘solution looking for a problem to solve’.
    As Real Estate Professionals (vs. real estate licensees) we must remember that real estate is personal, not social. You must connect, one-on-one, no matter how many FB ‘friends’ you may have.

  3. Danny Brown

    February 12, 2013 at 10:15 am

    As someone heavily embedded in the space, and working at a company that educates on being a social business and all that entails, I thought the ad was funny. It touched on the fears that many small-to-mid businesses have about social, which – in fairness – is a lot of FedEx customers.

    The message I got is if social scares you, that’s okay, because the “traditional ways” also work. Which is pretty much true – not everyone needs to be on social and not everyone needs to continue to use traditonal. Get the mix that fits your business.

  4. Shannon Swenson

    February 12, 2013 at 11:01 am

    Buzzzzzzzzz. They win.

  5. andrewburnett

    February 12, 2013 at 11:03 am

    It could just be that my opinion is shaped by edgier advertising in the UK, but this ad is both vacuous and vapid.

    It may have its tongue firmly in its cheek, but it doesn’t really do much for FedEx other than to say they have produced a ‘witty’ ad.

    A creative ad agency could surely have come up with something a bit better than simply roll out tired hipster clichés? A clever campaign could surely have found a wittier angle than the dull blunt stereotype?

    Isn’t such a situation crying out for a contemporary reprise of Fallon McElligott’s Perception vs Reality campaign? Wouldn’t that make all parties shine?

  6. Danny Brown

    February 12, 2013 at 8:20 pm

    What’s his Klout score?

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