FedEx - Desert Island

January 26, 2003 | :45

This sendup of the 2000 Tom Hanks film “Cast Away,” in which Hanks plays a marooned FedEx exec, was shut out of the USA Today ad meter top 10 by the merest dermal-dental layer, coming in at No. 11, but performed much better on InterMedia Advertising Group’s survey. The BBDO New York’s O. Henry-style twist ending (“a satellite phone, GPS locator, water purifier … just silly stuff”) helped make “Desert Island” the second-most recalled and most liked ad in the game. It ranked first in the Adbowl poll by McKee Wallwork Henderson Advertising.

"Desert Island" was directed by Bryan Buckley, who also directed Pepsi Twist's ad in the same game ("Osbournes") would go on to lens oodles of high-impact commercials, including DirecTV’s memorable, if unfathomably creepy, series of marionette ads and the controversial SodaStream spot starring Scarlett Johansson in the 2014 Super Bowl ("Saving the World"). 

At the time, FedEx was a steadfast investor in America’s Greatest Secular Holiday, committing to a spot in nearly every Super Bowl going back to 1989, most of which were concerned with reinforcing the courier’s reputation for reliable, unwavering service. But after bowing out in the annus horribilis that was 2009, the company continued to walk the sidelines.

Bud Light would also do a riff on the desert island scenario, with very different results, in the 2005 Super Bowl ("Deserted Island").

Director: Prolific big-game director Bryan Buckley, who also lensed ads such as's classic "When I Grow Up," GoDaddy's "Bodybuilder," TurboTax's "Love Hurts," Tide's "Miracle Stain" and Honda's "A New Truck to Love." Production Company: Hungry Man.

Agency producer: Elise Greiche. Chief creative officer: Ted Sann. Copywriter: Harold Einstein. Senior executive creative director/art director: Gerry Graf. Editorial: MacKenzie Cutler Editorial. Editor: Ian Mackenzie.

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  • BrandFedEx
  • Year2003
  • AgencyBBDO
  • Superbowl #XXXVII
  • Quarter airedQ1