While some notable viral online campaigns, like Burger King’s famous “subservient chicken,” have aimed to be entertaining enough to find huge audiences but which talked little if at all about products, the FedEx videos are "tongue-in-cheek infomercials" that extol FedEx’s services.
In the videos, Mr. Willard — whose credits include roles in mockumentaries like “Best in Show,” “A Mighty Wind,” and “For Your Consideration” — hosts infomercials called “1-2-3 Succeed!” with a studio audience, also filled by actors.
The spots tend toward rapid-fire sight gags and surreal humor, as when Mr. Willard is promoting FedEx’s package-tracking service and asks, “Who likes to track things?” As the camera pans the audience, it lingers on a man applauding who is dressed in a beaver cap and fringed frontiersman costume.
In a segment highlighting FedEx Office (formerly FedEx Kinko’s), Mr. Willard asks, “What’s the one thing every business wants to be known for?”“Dinosaurs!” shouts one audience member. “Ponies!” shouts another. And another: “Nitrogen!"
My favorite spot is "FedEx - International Shipping". I love the guy in the front row in the German Leatherhosen. LMAO!!!
As for the making a "notable viral online campaign", not so sure... yes there is "funny" here... but will there a "million hits or wide-spread" pass along in the same vain as Crispin Porter + Bogusky achieved with BK's various "Whooper Virgin" or "Freak Out"... hmmmmm, time will tell.
FedEx - A Bit of History
FedEx has been make great ads since its 1981 spot, by Ally & Gargano, (NOTE: topped New York magazine’s list last year of “most memorable” ads of the last four decades) that featured the fast-talking actor John Moschitta Jr. delivering alliterative lines — “Peter, you did a bang up job. I’m putting you in charge of Pittsburgh, Peter. I know it’s perfect, Peter; that’s why I picked Pittsburgh.” (See Video)
For the last 20 years by BBDO Worldwide, New York, has been the lead agency and helped pioneer office humor in ads, and often had their premieres during the Super Bowl. So when the company announced that after 18 years it would forgo advertising during the last Super Bowl, because it could not justify the expense during the downturn, the news resonated.
Steve Pacheco, director of advertising at FedEx, said the new infomercial campaign reflected FedEx’s acknowledgment of the growing sentiment that “lunchtime is the new prime time,” meaning that the multitudes who watch videos online while chomping sandwiches in cubicles rival those wielding remote controls at night.
“That hurt the Super Bowl much more than any other advertiser, because FedEx is a market leader,” said Jerry Della Femina, who is chief executive of Della Femina Rothschild Jeary & Partners and has worked on Madison Avenue since the early 1960s. “Look, you never bet against Federal Express, because they’re smart, and when they’re doing something, it’s well thought out.”
“We’re still very involved in television, especially with all our sports and sponsorship support,” Mr. Pacheco said. “But digital advertising and communication is taking a bigger role in the overall plan, because we try to scale our media plan to be where our customers are.”
While FedEx is not pulling the plug on television, a return to the Super Bowl, which this year cost $3 million for a 30-second spot, is an open question.“We’re going to take it day by day,” Mr. Pacheco said about future Super Bowls.