When developing a brand for your business, any marketing professional will tell you to steer clear from claims about how long you’ve been in the industry or the “quality” of your products or services. With a selling point like that, you are no different from any of your competition. Prospective clients will hear “blah, blah, blah” as you try to pitch your business. It is important that a unique selling point has emotional power and defines your differences. A great example of this is FedEx’s old unique selling point, “when it absolutely, positively needs to be there overnight”.  And there is certainly something to appreciate about a 100% guarantee within a short tagline…

Federal Express was founded in 1973 and was one of the original couriers to provide overnight delivery for smaller packages.  Between the years 1975 and 1977, the number of packages FedEx shipped grew from 11,000 to 22,000, and their customer accounts tripled. However, market research showed consumers’ recall of FedEx’s advertisements was quite low and that their target demographic had a hard time relating to the ads personally.

At this point, FedEx decided to go in an entirely different direction and incorporate comedy into their advertising campaign. The ads were simple, effortlessly understood, and established empathy between FedEx and anyone urgently trying to rush the mailing of an important parcel.

The ad campaign ran from 1978-1983 and also included ads showing the risk in sending important packages through courier services that weren’t as reliable as FedEx.

The “when it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight” campaign helped FedEx separate its brand from its competition. By the 1990s, the company had become the largest express transportation in the world. FedEx undoubtedly set the standard within their industry forcing the competition to play catch up.