The Spot: FedEx’s Package Deal

BBDO Toronto delivers four ads for the price of one in its entertaining new 30-second spot

Headshot of Tim Nudd

IDEA: Four ads—with talking turtles, worker ants, mythical dwarf-like creatures and reptilian humanoids—all packed into one 30-second ad? You're going to need some bubble wrap for that. Yet BBDO in Toronto delivers it all in one piece in its latest amusing spot for FedEx. The ad aims to raise awareness of FedEx offerings beyond its core strengths. "FedEx Canada is known as the gold standard in urgent and international shipping," said BBDO group account director Steve Groh. "We want people to be aware of the other stuff—freight, small business and less-than-urgent." The ad's first three scenes focus on those three areas, with the twist being that each segment, beginning with the second, opens with characters watching the previous scene—or "ad"—on TV. The spot wraps with a fourth scene in which two humans remark on all three ads and their "gimmicks" before revealing a gimmick of their own—as a flick of an alien tongue and swing of a dinosaur tail suggest these guys aren't human after all.

COPYWRITING: The agency wrote a handful of scripts. "This was the most ambitious by far, the one that scared us the most, and the one the client loved the most," said executive creative director Peter Ignazi.

The writers went back and forth on some of the creatures. But in all cases, they slyly reflect the services they're discussing—the turtles talk about non-urgent (i.e., slower) shipping; the ants want to haul freight; the dwarves are small-business men (in addition to being diminutive themselves). The writers had fun with the dialogue, too. "My favorite line is when the one turtle says to the other, 'Don't be so quick to judge,'" said Ignazi. "It's the little, subtle things we hope people will get. One of the ants is called Anthony. Anywhere we could inject a little humor, we did." The spot wraps with the FedEx logo and tagline, "Solutions that matter."

ART DIRECTION/FILMING: The Sons and Daughters directing team known as Peter Martin filmed the four scenes over two days in Toronto. The first scene was shot with animatronic turtles on a turtle-size set; the ant scene has CGI insects (from Aardman Animations) set against a human-size warehouse; the final two scenes are live action. There are lots of little visual jokes. "Tortoise beats hare!" reads a framed newspaper clipping in the turtles' office; the ants display a "Best Picnic Spots" map on the wall; and the dwarves have a circular door and medieval weaponry as decorations. "These ads get a lot of airplay and a lot of sharing online, so it's good to give people little things to see the next time," said Ignazi.

TALENT: The first two scenes lean on voiceovers—as younger workers chat with their superiors about shipping options. "You have to play in stereotypes to communicate stuff this quickly," Ignazi said. "You have the gruff, older, seasoned guy who's been around for a while—an Ed Asner kind of guy for the turtle. And you have the newbie who needs to learn that FedEx is the answer to whatever the problem is." The voices are more blue-collar in the warehouse than in the office. The dwarves are normal-size actors in makeup and prosthetics who "had to look good in big ears and beards," said Ignazi. The humans in the final scene are "nondescript white-collar guys who roll up their sleeves and tape boxes," he added. "Nothing really special. Just great actors."

SOUND: The sound is mostly ambient office noise, except for the dwarf scene, which has ethereal flute-like music playing. The major sound challenge was to match up the voiceovers to the animatronics and animation in the first two scenes.

MEDIA: National TV and online.



Client: FedEx

Spot: "Gimmicks"

Agency: BBDO Toronto

ECDs: Peter Ignazi, Carlos Moreno.

Copywriter: Sean Atkinson

Art Director: Shawn James

Agency Producers: Anna Tricinci, Dave Medlock

Production Company: Sons & Daughters

Director: Peter Martin

DOP: Barry Parrell

Production Designer: Noel McCarthy

Executive Producer: Liane Thomas

Producer: Jeff Darragh

Editing: Posterboy Edit

Editor: Brian Williams

Asst. Editor: Steve MacGregor

Editing Executive Producer: Michelle Lee

Color: Alter Ego

Colorist: Eric Whipp

VP, Group Account Director: Steve Groh

Account Supervisor: Jaya Gothi

Account Executive: Christine Michalejko

Animatronics: Legacy Effects

CGI: Aardman Animations

VFX: Ring of Fire

Sound Design: Grayson Matthews

Casting: Powerhouse

@nudd Tim Nudd is a former creative editor of Adweek.