FedEx ran a spot called "Carrier Pigeons," featuring a business that tries to use carrier pigeons for its overnight shipping needs, with disastrous results.
The spot, created by BBDO New York, came in second in USA Today's Ad Meter ranking of the most popular Super Bowl commercials, behind an Anheuser-Busch Cos. ad for Budweiser featuring a dalmatian training a rejected Clydesdale horse for a spot on the famous wagon team.
"For us, as a business brand, the Super Bowl is still a great place to be," said Steve Pacheco, director of advertising at FedEx. "The game is not just for the Budweisers, the carmakers and the movie studios."
The 45-second spot is part of the ongoing "Relax, It's FedEx campaign," promoting the shipping company's portfolio of products, including express, ground, freight and FedEx Kinko's.
Good story, visually exciting
"In any Super Bowl backdrop, you are really trying to break through and get the attention of folks right off the bat," Pacheco said. "What really works is a good story that is visually exciting and ties back to the brand in a very powerful and dominant way."
The spot opens with an office worker walking down the hallway with his boss, discussing how carrier pigeons have solved all the company's shipping needs.
"These babies are equipped with GPS and night vision," the worker says, holding a pigeon wearing a miniature helmet and goggles, and carrying a package on its back.
When the boss asks how the pigeons handle the "big stuff," the worker says, "That's been taken care of." An assistant rolls open a window shade to reveal giant carrier pigeons taking off from the roof of the office building, carrying giant packages. But then havoc breaks loose as the pigeons start to drop the packages onto city street below, where they crash into vehicles, break open water pipes and cause panic.
One errant pigeon picks up a car and sends it crashing through a glass window, missing the office worker and his boss by inches. "Let's switch to FedEx," the boss says.
More than 1,000 hours of computer-generated imagery and animation work went into creating the special effects, Pacheco said. The ad will begin regular rotation on broadcast and cable networks, and is also featured on the FedEx Web site.
In the week prior to the game, FedEx ran banner ads offering a sneak preview of the ad on its Web site, as well as a video showing how the ad was created.
During the game, FedEx had a hospitality suite for its top customers and business partners, at which it offered a viewing of the ad before it was broadcast. The company also ran a page one teaser ad in USA Today to drive users to its Web site to watch the ad.
"This ad is really a reliability enforcer, showing that you are better off and safer to stay with FedEx. It fits into our slice-of-life office humor that we are known for," Pacheco said.
Other b-to-b advertisers
Other b-to-b ads running during the big game included spots for CareerBuilder, Salesgenie, Dell and GoDaddy.com
Online job site CareerBuilder had two 30-second spots during the game.
In the first, called "Queen of Hearts," a worker's heart jumps out of her body and ventures off in search of a better job. In the second, called "Firefly," a worker doesn't get his dream job by wishing on a star. The campaign was designed to encourage disgruntled workers to go to CareerBuilder.com to find more fulfilling jobs.
Salesgenie, a sales lead provider, ran two spots during the game. The animated ads promoted a special offer of 100 free sales leads per salesperson for companies going to Salesgenie.com.
In one spot, "Ling Ling's Bamboo Furniture Shack" is about to go out of business. Its owners, a panda bear family, go to Salesgenie.com to take advantage of free leads. Six month later, the business has grown into a huge furniture emporium.
In the other spot, a poor-performing salesman at Acme Widget Co. is told he must double his sales or he'll be fired. He goes to Salesgenie.com to get free leads and, within six months, he wins salesman of the year.
Dell ran a 30-second ad promoting Red, a partnership with Microsoft Windows in which some of the proceeds from (Product) Red computers will go toward fighting AIDS in Africa.
GoDaddy.com, a domain name registration and Web hosting company, ran an ad called "Exposure," driving users to its Web site to view a spot that was rejected for broadcast because it was deemed too racy.