FedEx: Edgy “Sustainability” Marketing

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

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.