FedEx is not only missing a great positive opportunity, it is doing its best to turn it into a negative.
It started with a guy named Jose Avila. Moving to another city for work, he was temporarily stuck with two leases, and had no money for furniture. Being a loyal FedEx customer, he made furniture out of FedEx boxes.
"One thing I’ve always stood behind is I'm pro-FedEx. I ship stuff with FedEx all that time and I feel more comfortable shipping with FedEx because their boxes are stable and sturdy."Great endorsement. But now that good feeling is being put to the test.
Avila put up a website (which is intermittently up and offline) which included pictures of his creations. Back in June, it caught the attention of a Public Relations Blog specialist, who thought it would be a great "viral marketing" gimmick for FedEx, and contacted the FedEx PR department.
He didn't hear anything back, until word got out that FedEx was suing Avila to take down his site. The legal basis was a violation of the DMCA (basically, publishing a digital picture of things with the FedEx logo.) In addition, FedEx is claiming that Avila's use of a ".com" domain for his site was "proof" that he intended to somehow improperly profit from using the FedEx name and logo. (It has nothing to do with the fact that ".com" is the default and standard for just about anyone looking for anything on the internet.)
Well, the blogger is now trying to get FedEx to see how bad this looks to the Wired generation.
FedEx could have had it's own version of Jared: a normal guy who believes in the product so much, he becomes his own free publicity. Instead, it's running the risk of being the uncaring company that is suing a guy who can't afford his own furniture.
(I seem to recall an older Saturday Night Live episode, where R.E.M.'s Michael Stipe wore a suit made of FedEx wrapping. Will they sue to block that show from reruns?)