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Federal Express Ads Reflect Global Reach

August 30, 1989

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) _ Federal Express, mapping its foray into global competition in air cargo transportation, has dropped the fast-talking, humorous advertising campaign which promised to deliver packages ″absolutely, positively overnight.″

The Memphis company that dominates the nation’s overnight market instead has adopted new, documentary-style television commercials touting safety, reliability and technical expertise.

The change is part of the company’s effort to expand internationally and become the world’s leading transportation company.

Federal Express merged on Aug. 7 with international air freight carrier Flying Tigers, through which it acquired an air cargo network of 119 countries.

Analysts say the Flying Tiger acquisition has given Federal Express two sets of customers: businesses to which it sells services directly, and freight forwards, which buy services for resale to shippers. Flying Tigers sold its heavy freight service primarily through freight forwarders.

And the analysts say a change in the company’s advertising approach is only natural given Federal Express’ expanded clientele.

″You are not going to sell the heavyweight business the same way you sell an overnight letter,″ said David Guthrie, an analyst with Morgan Keegan & Co. in Memphis.

″With an overnight letter, you are dealing with an individual who may be relatively unsophisticated. Someone shipping heavy freight is going to be sophisticated. I don’t think you are going to sell to those kind of people with a funny ad,″ Guthrie said.

David Shoenfeld, vice president of international marketing for Federal Express, said the company’s marketing focus will continue to shift from next- day delivery to reliability.

‴Absolutely, positively overnight’ really is not a message that’s available to us internationally simply because some things just can’t be overnight,″ Shoenfeld said.

Shoenfeld cites one selling point as the fact that Federal Express flies its own aircraft to 30 international airports instead of relying primarily on cargo space in passenger airlines as competitors do.

″When all of the integration has taken place ... I think we will see Federal Express become the global standard,″ he said.

Federal Express, as a newcomer in the heavyweight freight business, faces stiff competition from a host of new competitors including Japan Air Lines and Lufthansa German Airlines.

Its U.S. arch-rival, United Parcel Service, announced on Monday plans to expand its package delivery service to 175 countries and territories. It also is planning a new ad campaign promoting its worldwide service.

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