Parody Equals Free Press for UPS

You knwo those amusing little UPS commercials with the whiteboard? Not sure how many of you know that the actor is actually the ad agency creative director, Andy Azula from The Martin Agency. According to the WSJ, he stumbled into this role since his stand-in readings tested the best with focus groups and UPS execs. (While I still stand behind not testing actual creative in a manufactured, unrealistic environment like a focus group, sometimes they can be right – just like 50% of the time you can be right about a coin toss.)

Now FedEx has launched a parody of these successful ads on their special website devoted to opposition of a proposed new Federal law that may benefit UPS unfairly. There is also something there about UPS asking for a bailout but I’m not really clear on what the issue is.

Anyway, back to the marketing. The parody is done quite well and it garnered UPS some nice press in the WSJ this morning. Although Azula says the clone’s hair seems a tad more greasy than his. Meow.

I love the UPS ads for their simplicity and clarity of message. Each individual ad (Azula estimates that 48 different 15- and 30-second spots have been produced, but may not all have aired) highlights a different benefit, rather than lumping them all into one and confusing the heck out of the audience. They seem down to earth, pragmatic, smart and in an odd way, comforting.

A sales rep I worked with at a cash-strapped start-up once remarked, “Why can’t we do ads like that? How much could they cost anyway? I mean, it’s one guy, a whiteboard and a camera, right?” I didn’t even know where to begin to explain to him production costs, unions, production quality, editing, Union pay, permits, lighting, equipment, titles, pre and post production…..yada, yada. I mean, this isn’t YouTube. Not to mention national TV media placement costs in the millions of dollars. Some people seem to not realize that you pay to produce an ad AND you pay for the airtime as well.

But in that remark, I saw that UPS achieved their brand goal of making their brand seem simple, straightforward and cost-effective. So maybe that’s a good thing.

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