PR PLAY OF THE WEEK: Hit movie delivers great PR for FedEx

Imagine a film producer pitching this idea to FedEx: 'We're going to crash one of your planes in the ocean and leave your employee on a desert island for four years where he will rip open undelivered packages, bury one of your pilots after taking his shoes and have a committed relationship with a volleyball.'

Imagine a film producer pitching this idea to FedEx: 'We're going to crash one of your planes in the ocean and leave your employee on a desert island for four years where he will rip open undelivered packages, bury one of your pilots after taking his shoes and have a committed relationship with a volleyball.'

Imagine a film producer pitching this idea to FedEx: 'We're going to crash one of your planes in the ocean and leave your employee on a desert island for four years where he will rip open undelivered packages, bury one of your pilots after taking his shoes and have a committed relationship with a volleyball.'

FedEx took a risk associating its brand with Cast Away, staring Tom Hanks and directed by Robert Zemeckis. But the gamble paid off, earning the company a PR Play of the Week.

Unlike traditional product placement deals, FedEx did not pay anything to have its name featured in the film. In fact, 20th Century Fox/DreamWorks approached FedEx in fall, 1998.

'William Broyles, Jr., the screenwriter, said one reason he wanted to use FedEx was because we set the standard for timelines,' said Carla Boyd, a FedEx spokesperson. 'He wanted a company that conveyed that without having to explain too much.'

FedEx had significant input into script development and directed its image at every step. A group from FedEx's global brand marketing team reviewed 20 scripts over two years. A FedEx pilot consulted on the set during the ultra-sensitive crash scene. Some 1,500 FedEx employees worked as extras, and CEO Fred Smith even made a cameo appearance. Uniforms, trucks and the Memphis headquarters were all provided by the company.

'The brand comes across in a very positive way, our employees come across as caring, we come across like a global company, and our pilots come across as heroic,' Boyd boasted.

The film grossed dollars 110 million in its first two weeks, topping the box office. FedEx has done no additional PR relating to the film, but its involvement has been cited in a December 11 Wall Street Journal article, which stated, 'The film glories in the FedEx way from the start, with (FedEx) getting screen time second only to Hanks.'

The FedEx philosophy is summed up in the final scenes of Cast Away, as Tom Hanks makes the most overdue package delivery in FedEx history.

'In just that one scene, the positives outweigh the negatives,' Boyd said.



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