The fall television season is well under way, offering some of the nation’s top b-to-b companies an opportunity to introduce new campaigns as well as tap new vehicles for existing marketing efforts.
FedEx Corp., for instance, launched a new advertising campaign Oct. 15 that, using humor, seeks to reassure its small-business customers.
Five 30-second spots are running across the network and cable landscapes, with ads on NBC’s new sitcom "Emeril" and NBC mainstay "Law and Order," ABC’s "Monday Night Football" and "20/20," and CBS’ "Late Night with David Letterman."
The ads also appear on a slew of programs running on cable news outlets CNN, CNBC and Fox News Channel. The campaign, created by BBDO Worldwide, will run through May and will most likely be renewed. Billings were not disclosed.
Swallows to Capistrano
In one spot, a fast-talking FedEx executive explains to a colleague the case of a young entrepreneur who, glued to a "Hogan’s Heroes" marathon, neglects to mail an important package and "like a swallow returning to Capistrano, he instinctively heads to FedEx." The ad features the company’s new tagline: "Don’t worry. There’s FedEx for that."
"The commercials show situations that people running a small and growing business can relate to," said Steve Pacheco, manager-advertising at FedEx, adding that the "Don’t worry" tagline is solidly grounded in corporate research into the needs of small-business customers.
Services and customer conveniences highlighted by the campaign include FedEx Ground, FedEx Express, international service to more than 210 countries, shipping and tracking capabilities at FedEx.com and the extensive FedEx Express retail and drop-box network.
October also marked the official introduction of Microsoft Corp.’s latest operating system, Windows XP, with an ad budget reportedly in the $200 million range. The ads feature pop singer Madonna’s "Ray of Light" tune and have run during such shows as ABC’s "Monday Night Football."
IBM Corp. is currently developing new ads that will launch sometime in the first quarter. The spots will build on the company’s existing e-business infra-structure and business value campaign, which was launched earlier this year.
The campaign has several new executions this fall on prime-time programs such as NBC’s "ER" and "The West Wing." The ads will also be in heavy rotation on weekends during NCAA college football and NFL games, as well as the Major League Baseball playoffs. The campaign was created by Ogilvy & Mather. Billings were not disclosed.
"The strategy is to recognize that companies need partners and want partners who can not only implement business strategies but plan them," said Lisa Baird, VP-worldwide advertising for IBM. "There’s an uncertainty in business about what happens next. We feel the ads have a resonant message, which is building your infrastructure is building your business."
TV ad revenues take a hit
Despite these high-profile ad campaigns, TV advertising continues to go south, dragged down by the economy and hundreds of millions of dollars in ad losses due to round-the-clock coverage of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and their immediate aftermath.
"There have been dramatic cutbacks in ad budgets, and b-to-b companies in particular are concerned about the environment," said Jack Myers, publisher and editor of "The Jack
Myers predicts a sluggish fourth quarter in TV ad spending, with a slight uptick in December for the holidays. For the full year, Myers projects a 6% decline in advertising for broadcast networks compared with 2000 and a 2% decline in advertising for