Christine Owens, Senior VP-communications and brand management, United Parcel Service of America

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Title: Senior VP-communications and brand management
Company: United Parcel Service of America
Years in current job: 4
Quote: “I don't see us pulling back any next year.”

United Parcel Service of America is searching for a new agency for its global advertising business. Euro RSCG, JWT, Ogilvy and Y&R, all in New York, are the four finalists. The incumbent, the Martin Agency, Richmond, Va., recently withdrew from the review.

But as the senior VP-communications and brand management for a company seeking a new agency, Christine Owens seems to be content with UPS' marketing communications efforts. “We will not stop our advertising,” she said. “We're pretty clear about that. When you have millions of people visiting our "Whiteboard' site as a result of our advertising, you know you have to continue advertising.”

Owens promises to continue spending in 2010, even though UPS has placed some restrictions on its marketing budget this year. “We've had to pull back in some areas and tighten up in some other areas,” she said. “I think that's pretty typical for most businesses right now.”

As is to be expected for a company that generated $47.6 billion in revenue in 2008 and has been expanding its global footprint, UPS has been spending a large share of its marketing budget to communicate messages overseas. This year it built out from the marketing it did in China in connection with the 2008 Beijing Olympics by sponsoring the PGA European Tour.

The company sponsored several tournaments and individual golfers Lee Westwood and Pablo Larrazabal, the tour's rookie of the year. “It's hugely popular,” Owens said of the European Tour, which fits into UPS' global ambitions.

UPS has fun with the sponsorship. As the “official express carrier of the Open Championship” (which Americans know as the British Open), UPS commissioned an official Scottish tartan plaid—in brown of course—and Larrazabal wore pants based on the pattern in a practice round in the tournament. And both Larrazabal and Westwood blog on UPS' Web site about their performance on the course.

“We're going to continue to do more digital,” Owens said.

Like its PGA European Tour affiliation, UPS' NASCAR sponsorship showcases the company's devotion to digital. Driver David Ragan writes a blog for the company's site and posts to Twitter. “I think he had more than 2,000 tweets,” Owens said.

UPS also supported its NASCAR sponsorship with more traditional marketing communications. A series of TV spots in the “Maximum Driver” campaign showed Ragan racing UPS delivery drivers. The Martin Agency developed the campaign.

UPS also continued to expand its “Whiteboard” effort with TV spots (which feature Andy Azula, a creative director at the Martin Agency) and online with the UPS Whiteboard Headquarters. With downloadable widgets from the UPS Web site, companies can allow their customers to get automated shipment tracking alerts and status updates, or receive news via RSS from the desktop.

The widgets are available in a number of countries and languages. Most recently UPS released a widget with Chinese characters for Taiwan. “We're going to expand our use of online widgets, and some of that will be happening next year,” Owens said.


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