Brown Alleges False FedEx Claims in NAD Complaint

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WASHINGTON ( -- A $2 million tongue in cheek Super Bowl ad from FedEx featuring a dancing bear, Burt Reynolds, cheerleaders and a cute kid is now the subject of a Federal Trade Commission investigation.
UPS has gone to the Better Business Bureau to attack FedEx's 'Burt Reynolds and the Bear' Super Bowl spot.

The Council of Better Business Bureau's National Advertising Division is referring a claim from United Parcel Service to the FTC that FedEx's slogan is inaccurate after FedEx declined to participate in the advertising industry's self-regulatory review.

A highlight
The 45-second FedEx commercial, from Omnicom Group's BBDO Worldwide, New York, was one of the highlights of this year's Super Bowl ads. An on-camera announcer admits FedEx had looked at previous ads and wanted to make sure it had all the elements of a successful Super Bowl spot: a celebrity (Mr. Reynolds, who intones the tagline in question: "FedEx: The most reliable way to send your package"), an animal (the bear), a dancing animal (the bear), a cute child, a groin kick (the bear kicking Mr. Reynolds), the cheerleaders and a talking animal (the bear again) and a message (the reliability claim).

FedEx also made the reliability claim on its Web site and in related print advertising.

UPS complained to NAD that the reliability claim was untrue.

Definition of 'reliability'
Customers define "reliability ... as meaning that the package arrives by the guaranteed day and time," rather than speed of arrival, UPS said, adding that FedEx does not exceed UPS's on-time delivery performance. UPS also said FedEx's claim was too broad, implying that FedEx is the "most reliable" in all market segments -- air, ground and international.

UPS said FedEx's own data fails to support its broad superiority claims. NAD said UPS cited a FedEx memorandum showing that in "head-to-head" service tests between FedEx Ground and UPS Ground in August 2004 the two companies were at parity.

Susan Rosenberg, a UPS spokeswoman, said the company believes NAD would have been able to resolve the dispute if FedEx had cooperated with the review. �We feel that is why NAD exists,� she said. There is no guarantee that the FTC will look into the matter.

Declined to participate
A FedEx spokesman said the company declined to participate in the self-regulatory process because UPS's complaint is "technical."

"Given the technical nature of the issue raised, we feel this issue can more appropriately be handled between the parties," the FedEx spokesman said.

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