FEDEX ADS TAKE ON U.S. POSTAL SERVICE

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It's payback time for FedEx.

In several national radio spots now being aired, Federal Express Corp. is responding to U.S. Postal Service ads that, FedEx contends, unfairly compared pricing and delivery between Priority Mail and FedEx 2-Day service.

The postal service ads said its Priority Mail was less expensive on express domestic and international delivery while making deliveries just as quickly as FedEx and United Parcel Service (AA, Nov. 11). The advertising also said the postal service does not have a Saturday surcharge.

"We are running these ads to set the record straight," said Greg Rossiter, managing director-public relations for FedEx, the No. 1 package delivery company. "There is a big difference between Priority Mail and FedEx 2-Day delivery."

IS IT GLOBAL?

The FedEx radio spots, from BBDO Worldwide, New York, challenge the postal service's commitment to two-day express delivery and question what the postal service means by "global" delivery. FedEx says the postal service doesn't deliver to all countries outside the U.S., as it claims by using the term "global," and is not specific on delivery time for its express packages.

The commercials take the form of a conversation between a postal service worker and a customer.

`ABOUT' TWO OR THREE DAYS

Dialogue in one spot includes the following exchange:

Postal service customer: "Do your ads promise to deliver Priority Mail in two or three days?"

Postal service clerk: "Well, actually, we say we deliver in `about' two or three days. But sometimes that can take a couple of days."

Customer: "But I thought a couple was two?"

Clerk: "Well, we can't commit to two, now can we? So it could be two, but it could be more. Less than some but not as much as many."

Customer: "So, you're saying several days?"

Clerk: "You bet. Or less than several. We can't commit to that though either."

Customer: "You mean it may take awhile?"

Clerk: "Of course not, but maybe."

Customer: "You mean it might take some time?"

Clerk: "Possibly, but not probably. But don't quote me on that."

LAWSUIT FILED IN MEMPHIS

FedEx is also challenging the postal service in court. It filed suit in November in U.S. District Court in Memphis, Tenn., asking the postal service to modify elements of its advertising, run corrective advertising and stop referring to itself as a "company."

FedEx will run the advertising indefinitely "or until it gets the job done," Mr. Rossiter said.

Postal service officials declined to comment on the new FedEx ads.

FCB/Leber Katz Partners created the postal service's Priority Mail campaign.

In addition to radio, FedEx is using point-of-purchase material based on the ads and has special information on its Web site (http://www.fedex.com) regarding what it feels is misleading information about the postal service ads.

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