Christine Owens led United Parcel Services through its biggest creative makeover since it established itself as Big Brown, adding white to the color palette in a move that drove more than 2 million customers to marketing materials on the company 's Web site.
UPS this year created 12 new commercials for the $35 million whiteboard campaign it rolled out in 2007, adding animation and additional characters to the popular advertisements featuring Martin Agency Creative Director Andy Azula and his magical dry-erase marker.
“As much as I love that brown truck, it just wasn't conveying what it needed to,” Owens said. “We were sending a limited view. There's just so much more that we can do.”
The company's product mix has grown, extending the complexity of its services well past moving a box from point A to point B in a timely fashion.
“I don't think we took the whole part of what we do and put it out there in a simplistic format,” Owens said. “We run some sophisticated supply chains. What each customer needs is very different.”
The television spots and print components rely on Azula's marker to pare complex ideas down, and the campaign also drives viewers to a Web site where UPS uses the same marker to lay out the details. The whiteboard site addresses the needs of different segments of the company's customer base, packaging together ads, demonstrations and animated shorts that, for example, illustrate small business or medical services.
“It's a more personal place to go to get information,” Owens said. “It creates an opportunity for our customers to interact with us.”
On average, customers spend more than three minutes viewing material on the site, according to the company, and internal tracking data show that the campaign has helped increase perceptions of UPS as innovative and forward-thinking.
The company that so carefully plotted the arc of its whiteboard campaign got swept up in a spontaneous marketing opportunity this year as well, sponsoring a racehorse named Big Brown in its bid to take racing's Triple Crown.
“It was great from an advertising perspective,” Owens said. “It's so rare you can just wrap yourself in the momentum.”
The company also sponsored NASCAR drivers and the Olympic Games. In Beijing, that meant taking charge of the logistics of transporting 19 million pieces to the Olympic grounds.
The company ran an advertising campaign in China, a difficult market to penetrate, using television, online, print, radio and subway advertisements, Owens said. The execution of the shipping of materials for the event itself functioned as a key selling point.
“It gave us an opportunity to show what we could do,” she said. —C.W.