Karen Jones, VP-advertising, brand and promotions, DHL Express USA

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By at least one measure, DHL Express USA's rebranding campaign has gained quite a bit of traction since its start two years ago. Overall awareness of DHL by its target client base is at 60%, compared with 11% two years ago. That's good but not good enough, considering awareness of competitor brands FedEx and UPS tops 90%, said Karen Jones, VP- advertising, brand and promotions.

In the first phase of the campaign, "Competition. Great for you. Bad for them," DHL introduced itself as a force to be reckoned with in the shipping industry. The second phase really resonated with disgruntled consumers. Using the tagline "Customer service is back in shipping," one tongue-in-cheek TV commercial featured the song "What the World Needs Now Is Love" and showed multiple examples of bad service.

"It was the emotion of a bad customer experience, and then as it related particularly to shipping, it struck an even deeper chord among shippers saying, `Yeah, where is the love in shipping,' " Jones said.

The "silver bullet" going forward is to concentrate on the customer experience and determine how to overdeliver on the brand promise, said Jones, who joined DHL in 2004 and was charged with repositioning the company.

"I wouldn't say we are there yet," she said. "2007 for us is more about a balanced mix of awareness and driving it more to conversion. They are aware of us. How do we turn that into consideration and ultimately purchase?"

DHL spent $60 million on TV spots this year. Jones plans to trim traditional broadcast media spending next year as she looks more to direct marketing and online opportunities, as well as a larger sponsorship portfolio. Instead of a broad message, Jones said, DHL will hone its advertising to speak to anyone, from CFOs to administrative assistants, who needs to get a package shipped efficiently.

This year's marketing home run was the second year of a sucessful sponsorship agreement with Major League Baseball. The expanded scope of the pact doubled audience awareness of DHL, Jones said.

One program, Hometown Heroes, invited consumers to vote for the most outstanding player of each of the 30 franchises, with the winners announced over three nights on ESPN. Fans who cast ballots via cellphone, a Web site, or at a ballpark or DHL shipping center came in contact with the company, as did people who went to their favorite club's Web site to read stories about the winners. Over the course of the two-month campaign, more than 17 million votes were cast.

"It's a great platform to grow awareness," Jones said. —M.E.P.

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