FedEx: Edgy “Sustainability” Marketing

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We were intrigued with a one-minute video clip that FedEx commissioned, to draw attention to its commitment to environmental sustainability, and released through Youtube for viral dissemination. The animated clip begins with a pristine forest scene, populated by anthropomorphic trees and animals, as well as fairies, who sway to a nursery-tale rhythm, through which a stylized FedEx delivery truck and airplane float, to be nurtured on the limbs of a grandfatherly tree. But suddenly, at the narrator’s suggestion, the scene, wildlife, and vehicles drop the glitter and anthropomorphic characterizations, and the voiceover suggests a more clear-eyed view of sustainability criteria is called for. See for yourself (sound on) at www.youtube.com/watch?v=C6_4wfEmPpc

The message is nuanced, complex, and perhaps baffling—sometimes the point in viral marketing, in which creating buzz rests on ambiguity—and implying open-ended questions. We hope our own industry’s marketers evaluate this innovative critique of sustainability mythmaking, stressing the importance of casting off conventional illusions.