Iconic Ads: Federal Express – Fast Talking Man

old fedex logo

Ally & Gargano leveraged Moschitta’s fast-talking skills to create advertising that appealed to the target customer of Federal Express

Advertising and the agencies responsible for its development have helped to build a number of well-known businesses. Fred Smith, the company’s founder and CEO, has confided that “had it not been for Ally & Gargano, Federal Express would probably not exist today.” 

In the 1980s, Federal Express (it was not Fedex then) relied on speed to succeed. In order to understand the “fast-moving, high-pressure, get it done yesterday” environment,” it was necessary to connect with clients’ basic anxieties. The anxieties of business people who rely on tiny shipments being delivered quickly and reliably were the focus of advertising by Ally & Gargano.

When John Moschitta Jr. first appeared on ABC’s That’s Incredible!, he showed off his quick delivery, which led to appearances on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon and The Merv Griffin Show.

After seeing him in That’s Incredible, Patrick Kelly and Michael Tesch of Ally & Gargano approached him. They knew they had something within 60 seconds of the show’s conclusion. They quickly contacted John in Los Angeles via their producer.

Quickly, Kelly & Tesch built a commercial around Moschitta’s special capability. The idea was to try to think of a way to communicate the idea of everything moving fast.

Tesch did a storyboard 2 days later.

They flew out to make their presentation at the Federal Express headquarters in Memphis, where Tom Oliver, the head of marketing, was based. And in less than a minute, he had purchased it.

They then reached out to Director Joe Sedelmaier. Joe was making ads at the time for businesses that were only vaguely known on a national level.

In the commercial, while he could talk at a rate of over 500 words per minute, Moschitta was forced to slow down to merely 400 words per minute in order to ensure that viewers could comprehend what he was saying. While working with Moschitta, Sedelmaier found his job funny and even fell off the camera stand while laughing too hard during one of the takes. The advertising firm and Federal Express believed they had something remarkable. It was recorded in April of 1981, but they chose to keep it until the autumn so that it could be shown during the football season, which was quite competitive at the time. “In this fast-moving, high-pressure, get-it-done-yesterday world, aren’t you glad there’s one company that can keep up with it all?” was the message delivered by a voiceover.

It was hard to ignore the message that your package would arrive the next day through Federal Express. Every frame of every ad focused on the service’s value to the intended audience.

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