It’s a relatively common strategy for companies to try to bring down their competitors. The Apple vs. Microsoft ads that appear frequently on the front page of The New York Times website. The recent Folgers attack on Starbucks’ instant coffee waged on billboards around Chicago. On the surface, it’s not so strange for FedEx to launch a new marketing campaign against its competitor UPS. But the way they’re doing it is a little suspect.
FedEx’s new campaign, in the form of a website called BrownBailout.com, accuses UPS (brown in color and nickname) of seeking a government bailout. It juxtaposes UPS’ income (over $2.1 trillion) with the definition of bailout (“a rescue from financial distress.”) In fact, according to a recent NY Times article, UPS isn’t seeking anything—it’s actually FedEx who’s trying to get something from the government.
They’re trying to get the Senate to not pass a law that would reclassify FedEx Express under different federal labor laws, making it easier to form unions. They’re arguing that doing this would hamper their own progress and help their competitor, UPS. However, UPS has been held under these labor laws for years, so they’re already unionized. In fact, it’s FedEx that has been getting the “bailout,” as they call it, all along.
Watch for a response from the Teamsters union, whose international VP is quoted in the article as saying, “It’s laughable to think that they would portray this as some bailout. This is simply leveling the playing field.” The director of communications at FedEx maintains that FedEx and UPS are fundamentally different companies and they shouldn’t be regulated the same, also, “that piece of legislation only helps one company while hurting a main competitor—if that’s not a bailout, we’re going to have to redefine the word.”