A marketing blog I read regularly has an interesting post about Fedex and how (in my opinion) they made a bad move that’s going to cost them some public relations points. Quite a few others seem to agree with me.
Here’s a quick summary:
A website called www.FedExFurniture.com was created recently by a college student. He did so at the urging of some friends to show people his creativity in using Fedex boxs and packing supplies to furnish his apartment. (Take a look. It’s interesting to say the least.)
This reminds me of a guy named Jared who lost a lot of weight eating only food that came from Subway. He is now a well-paid spokesperson for Subway (and no doubt an inspiration to many people as they try to lose weight.)
Things turned out a little differently for the “Fedex Furniture Guy”. He received a cease and desist letter from the legal beagles at the Fedex Corporate offices demanding he remove his website at once.
I certainly don’t want to suggest any company give up their legal rights regarding trademarks and other intellectual property. And I’m not necessarily suggesting they hire this kid either.
But I think the big shots at Fedex took the wrong approach here.
First, this would have been a non-issue had they used a quiet, friendly approach. I believe far fewer people would have even heard of this silly website (including me) if they had not gotten tough with him right away.
Maybe the folks at Fedex could have found a way to build on this college student’s creativity. Who knows, they might have gotten truckloads of free media attention, espcially now, during one of the slowest times of the year for our news-hungry media.
Instead, Fedex has a legal squabble on their hands because the “Fedex Furniture Guy” is not backing down. He enlisted the support of his campus legal aid and they shot right back at the Fedex lawyers. At this point it appears to be a standoff.
The bad thing for Fedex is a that a lot the buzz generated from this issue is negative for them. Not that this will hurt them in any significant way. But they will lose some customers.
For me this points out an important lesson for all of us who manage a business. Don’t fight with your customers. Especially don’t fight with them in a way that can be made very public very quickly. I don’t think it’s worth the bad publicity.
Maybe next time Fedex should have their communications and marketing people get involved before the lawyers fire their legal guns.
What do you think? Did Fedex handle this well or did they drop the ball?