FedEx's CMO on the logistics behind the company's marketing

Rajesh Subramaniam of FedEx talks about the company's latest campaign

Most people only see the end result of a FedEx delivery. The brand's is hoping to change that with its latest marketing strategy – one that recently pivoted from the funny to the emotional .

The campaign, by BBDO, uses the new tagline 'What we deliver by delivering'. The work illustrates that it’s not just about the packages, but also about what these deliveries mean for the people shipping and receiving them.

Rajesh Subramaniam, executive vice president and chief marketing and communications officer for the FedEx Corporation, said that the company’s end of the $4.5tn e-commerce economy must be rooted in the physical world, even if consumers never think about the logistics behind their packages.

With customers demanding faster and better service, the company decided that it needed to make that emotional connection with customers to “make the invisible, visible in a powerful, meaningful way".

Online shoppers have expectations of free shipping, Subramaniam said at the ANA Masters of Marketing Conference.

“By the way, let me tell you, there’s no such thing as free shipping,” he joked, noting that the sophisticated global transportation network that gets packages delivered on a daily basis is often taken for granted. Bits and bytes may be understandable to a mass audience, but getting a package from point A to B is a greater challenge.

To simplify shipping logistics clearly, the company looked at its own founding story. Subramaniam believes that the company, as large as it is, still often operates as a start-up.

“Fred [Smith] founded FedEx because he believed he could bring the world closer together,” he said.

The company started in 1973, delivering 186 packages in its first day. As it grew, Subramaniam said that the company eventually changed the way the world sees shipping.

But, he noted, FedEx is more than just packages shipped – it’s what they deliver that truly counts. This is the linchpin of the campaign: when FedEx delivers packages just in time for the holidays, it delivers joy. And when it delivered relief supplies after Hurricane Michael, it delivered hope.

The brand statement, according to Subramaniam, says it all: “We connect people and possibilities around the world.”

When developing campaigns, FedEx utilizes neuroscience technology to track how storytelling affects the brain in real time. The brand monitors how people react to their ads; in this instance, it noted that emotional brain signals lit up when a little girl who lost and then regained her beloved stuffed animal appeared on screen.

“The results were overwhelmingly positive,” he said. “We knew that our spots created deep emotional connections.”

Subramanian believes the ads, which were developed from real stories of real deliveries, hit home because said that the company has the integrity and credibility to be believable.

He reckons the delivery business itself is an “act of doing good", and therefore FedEx has "earned the right to tell these stories".

As the brand “connects people with possibilities", Subramanian noted that its longstanding relationship with its creative agency, BBDO, allows it to flourish.

“We’ve been partners since the late 80s…they understand us,” he said.

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