Karen Jones took on a big job when she joined shipping company DHL Express USA a little more than a year ago: oversee branding and advertising for the company’s repositioning campaign, taking on competitors FedEx and UPS. She joined DHL after a 15-year career at Hewlett-Packard Co., serving most recently as director of worldwide brand advertising.
"DHL, which was a niche international brand, hadn’t done any advertising in the U.S. for 20 years, " Jones said. After its acquisition of Airborne Express in late 2003, the company wanted to create a "stronghold" in North America, she said.
When Jones came on board in April 2004, DHL was in the process of creating strategy for a campaign with its ad agency, Ogilvy & Mather, New York. Jones worked with the agency to conduct research with target audiences, who identified a need for more competition in the shipping marketplace.
What resulted was a campaign with the tagline, "Competition. Bad for them. Great for you," which was launched in June 2004.
"We launched in the dead of summer, which is probably the most horrendous time to launch a campaign," Jones said. However, with a major sponsorship as the official express delivery and logistics provider of the U.S. Olympic Committee and the U.S. Olympic team, DHL made a big splash at the 2004 Summer Olympics.
The initial campaign included TV, print, online, direct and sponsorships, pitting DHL directly against FedEx and UPS.
Additional ads rolled out in 2004 and into early 2005 under the "Competition" theme. In March, Jones helped create a sponsorship with Major League Baseball, making DHL the official delivery provider for MLB, the National Baseball Hall of Fame, MLB.com and individual teams.
In June, DHL rolled out a print campaign for Import Express, its shipping service for companies that need express delivery for importing. In the fall, it will launch the next phase of its campaign with new TV spots. It will also be moving away from the "Competition" theme, although Jones declined to reveal the new messaging.
Jones said her move from high tech to the shipping industry has been rewarding. "In today’s world, every business is fast-paced, but technology is a bit more complex," she said. "It’s been interesting moving from a company that develops technology to a company that uses technology. But every company has marketing challenges."