The Fedex Takeover

Fedex At midnight eastern sunday night, Fedex will be "taking over" this blog. A "takeover" is an advertising approach where a marketer surrounds a web page with its brand. The Fedex takeover of this blog will run from midnight sunday night to midnight friday night, basically this entire work week.

Hopefully this blog post will run at the same time the takeover happens so all of you will see what I am talking about.

As many of you know, all of the revenue this blog generates goes to charity and this takeover is no different. However, since the idea of the takeover is to "engage" the reader more than a simple banner, I thought we ought to do something equally engaging with the ad revenue.

So, I am using some, but not all of the ad revenue, that comes from this ad campaign to fund 50 Donors Choose gift cards. Each Donors Choose gift card will be for $30. The first 50 readers who click on this link and leave your email address will get one of the $30 gift cards.

You can then use the gift card to donate the $30 to whatever public school project you want to fund at Donors Choose.

I want to thank Fedex for taking over this blog for the week and providing much needed funds for public school teachers and kids. I hope that all of you will engage with both Fedex and Donors Choose this week.


Comments (Archived):

  1. Jon Knight

    Great idea! Looking forward to helping you help out.edit: and hey, they have projects sponsored here in NC too! Fantastic!

  2. daryn

    Did FedEx design the takeover? It’s fairly subtle, especially at my usual browser window size, the top banner is the first thing I noticed.I’m a big fan of Donors Choose, happy for the reminder (and the gift card) to give again!

  3. Facebook User

    I’m a big fan of Fed Ex for documents. They have never let me down, and I think their customer service is absolute top notch!

  4. Henry Yates

    Great that Fedex are doing a takeover which is going towards Donors Choose, however, in my view this is a good example of why web advertising has a long way to go before it delivers on its potential. There is much more value from the PR of doing this than the media. Still an opportunity for someone to reinvent or find a substitute for display/sponsorship ads on the web.

    1. Niyi

      You are right.The corporate social responsibility points from this gesture are far greater than the impact of a thousand banners.I see a new ad vertical emerging – publishers who are willing to donate all/part of their ad revenue to charitable causes.What we need now is a system that helps advertisers find them easily.

  5. Matthew

    What a great idea Fred! Thanks FedEx!

  6. Morgan Warstler

    The advertising lends gravitas to your work. Kudos.

  7. kidmercury

    damn boss, i thought you were a new media revolutionary, didn’t know you were down with kickin’ it old school and plastering your blog with some mass-market, non-personalized, interruption-based ads just ’cause some one paid you to do so. i guess now that you’ve got corporate sponsorship deals dissin’ the fans is cool and just a part of the business. thanks for nothing, boss!lol just joking. but i dont think this is the future of advertising. i would have much preferred fedex to create a special campaign, maybe call it FRED Ex, and seek to have a real conversation with the community. if they did that, and if i got the okay from you that they were cool peeps, i might be inclined to use them.

    1. Mark Essel

      ohh I like the FRED Ex Kid, nice ring to it!

    2. fredwilson

      YupBut one step at a timeThese are big companies with a long history of doing things a certain way

      1. JLM
      2. Ethan Bauley

        Even more to the point, the staff resources needed to carry on a large-scale “real conversation” generally don’t exist (i.e. aren’t explicitly dedicated to said opportunity)

  8. Mark Essel

    So when does Houdini stop in to show you even more amazingly cool things to do to impress your readers? Fantastic idea Mr. Wilson, stop shaming us with your generous and inventive nature ;)To one up Fred we’re going to have turn water into energy, have it counter pollution, and feed the hungry at the same time, back to the laboratory…I look forward to the day Fred figures out how to transform our attention and interest into making ourselves rich: “surprise guys, you’re loaded and donated millions to charity along the way”

  9. John Sharp

    I haven’t seen this many FedEx logos in one place since “Castaway”. ;-)Fred Smith, now there’s an inspiring entrepreneurial story.

    1. kidmercury

      lol yeah the product placement in cast away was a bit over the top

  10. Anonymous

    Fred, How is the “takeover” implemented as compared to your usual advertising?

    1. fredwilson

      The banner on top is not usually thereAnd they’ve taken over the sides as well

  11. mikenolan99

    Great idea Fred – hope I was one of the 30!For years I sat on the board of the Educare foundation in my town in Minnesota.http://www.educarefoundatio…I always liked the idea – we provided “mini-grants” to public school teachers to do all the cool things that they couldn’t get done. We stayed away from capital campaigns and long-term commitments, and focused on smaller “bang-for-buck” ideas.I always dreamed of a “Kiva” for public schools – and it looks like DonorsChoose is on it’s way to becoming just that.Good job!Mike

    1. fredwilson

      “kiva for public schools” is a good way to think about donors choose

  12. jonathanmendez

    in the spirit of giving it would be cool if you, FM & Fedex could share some buy side and sell side performance data on this. 😉

    1. fredwilson

      I don’t know who is tracking thisI’m not

      1. daryn

        Equally cool would be if Fedex & FM matched all the donations :)The DonorsChoose GivingCards are a great idea that I didn’t know existed! I’m going to suggest we use them for all of our TeachStreet incentives (for user research, surveys, etc..); they are a perfect fit for our core values.

        1. fredwilson

          I started seeing tweets last night that the gift cards had been sent outI didn’t have to do a thing!Totally awesome

    2. Gregg Smith

      I’ll see if some of my fedex friends on twitter from here in Memphis can look into that (read this @mattceni?)

  13. Joe Friend

    Very nice. What a great way to fund projects and engage with your readers. Can’t wait to pick out a project to fund with my $30!

  14. andyswan

    Just for the record, Adblock Plus for FF catches the top banner but not the sides or the drop-box next to your face.

    1. hadar

      I would have missed it for this reason too, if Fred hadn’t coupled this specific post with the takeover. That made me view it in Chrome, where I could see the full effect. I wonder what the FedEx stats would have looked like on their end if it wasn’t “announced” on this blog, but just appeared…

    2. fredwilson

      Well then I’ll have to change my banner ad set up

  15. doug

    Regarding Fred Smith: I have read countless stories on (and I always thought til recently) his getting a “C” on his FedEx proposal at Yale was a sign of how terrible professors (and many others) were at gauging real-world business prospects for a fresh idea.But recently I have begun to question whether despite his having had a great idea for FedEx, he had earned only a “C” because he had done a poor job presenting his great idea, something which I have been guilty of and am learning is equally important to actually conceiving something new and better.

    1. Gregg Smith

      FedEx is legendary for losing a lot of VC money. The firm I worked for here in Memphis has/had one of the original business plans (but they didn’t invest). FedEx went through a couple of down rounds, but Fred somehow still stayed on top. I’ll dig around for more.

  16. RonDiver

    All fine, but I was more impressed that UPS reached out within hours of my frustrated tweet about a delayed package. Their follow-through was fantastic. This campaign, and the proposed FREDEx model, just don’t stand a chance against real engagement with customers.

    1. samfjacobs

      That is incredible service indeed. See – coupling some kind of Twitter strategy with this takeover makes more sense to me. Right now, I guess I’m not getting it.

  17. ShaneOGorman

    Fred – I think its great that people in positions like yours stop for a moment from time to time to do something good like this. I think a model like this might work better than a 24 7 charity. Thanks for doing this though.

    1. fredwilson

      I agree about “snacking on philanthropy”

  18. Raj Advani

    Some of the most intense takeovers I’ve seen are at, it’s a barrage of advertising followed by CSS domination.

  19. samfjacobs

    Fred – this is interesting but what is the specific value prop that FedEx is proposing? Honestly curious. How does their sponsorship relate to you? Are they saying they are believers in social media or web services? Is there a place to go to learn more about their view on those issues? Does someone at FedEx Twitter and are they engaging in some kind of conversation about the ways that web services like Twitter,, etc might relate to their core business? I guess I’m curious whether there is a specific reason they’re ‘taking over the blog’ and whether there are any synergies they’re trying to exploit besides just being near you and thus being cool/smart/etc.Unrelated, my new record is out nationally tomorrow and free copies for anyone that Tweets about it and/or wants one. Hit me up.

    1. fredwilson

      Its a great record sam. Is there a link to it I should use when posting/tweeting about it?

      1. samfjacobs

        Well, because it’s the release date, I’m giving away free copies for peoplevia Twitter, etc.You can use this URL: #painisareliablesignalThanks, Fred! The support is greatly appreciated!

        1. fredwilson

          I just tweeted it out to over 20,000 pplI am sure you’ll have a few new fans by the end of the day!

          1. samfjacobs

            Fred- you really helped me out today sir. Thank you. Its good kharmaand I really really appreciate it. Thank you for being so generous.That’s your earned media that you just opted to share. Thank you.

  20. howardlindzon

    can fedex takeover my blog. happy to do the same for however long they want. great idea. loving the takeover.

  21. CharityBiker

    Great idea Fred! Really admire all the work you are doing for charity with this blog.

  22. Nate

    Apple did an amazing “takeover” of the New York Times today. It’s video of PC and Mac pointing out a banner ad and interacting with a person in another ad. Very funny, worth disabling adblock for. screenshot of ad

  23. Vlad

    The “good cause” component is what makes this ad redeeming otherwise it would be as irritating and pointless as any other usual web advertisement – especially like the Apple takeovers that slow everything down.

    1. fredwilson

      I knew that which is why I added the “good cause” componentI turn down campaigns all the time for this blogBut I felt this one could be redeemed and so I did it

  24. Kristin Maverick

    Just wanted to say that this is a really great cause. I was happily surprised to see a 10$ card come through even after not being part of the first 30. I quickly donated to help give 25 dry erase boards with musical staff on them to give students an experience to make their own music.Felt really good that even a little bit of help can make such a big difference. Really great to see blogging/social media being put to a good cause.

    1. fredwilson

      Wait ’till you get the feedback messages from the teacher and kidsThat’s the best part of donors choose

  25. michael

    Someone tell me I’m not alone in this observation of about 2 seconds ago (after umpteen years of staring at the logo): There’s a perfect arrow formed by the Ex. Brilliant!

  26. Shurtleff

    Fred, does anyone provide a general widget capability to connect blogs to charities. I serve on one non profit board i would like to plug / market / direct voluntary contributions from the blogs i work on to this charity. Seen any technology or solution providers that takes Donor Choose and morfs it into a generic capability?

    1. fredwilson

      There was something a few years back but I didn’t really turn into anything

  27. Alex

    Thank you for letting me place some of the proceeds from this campaign. I’ve recently graduated and recently started a fairly well paying job. I’ve been thinking of all the things I can do and buy with my new found income. Its been my plan to give a share of my income up, but it was on the back-burner to all my fantastic, egocentric ideas. This reminded me of my promise of giving back and brought up an even more interesting question; who can I give to?

  28. heif

    as andrew mason (founder of thepoint & groupon) recently said: “I’m amazed how willing is to let and advertiser (Apple) shit all over their website” (… )fred, fedex is shitting on your website.harmless, yes. annoying, no. but makes your site ugly and less credible to those don’t know how credible you are.turns avc from something google/craigslist/twitter-like (not brand-bastardized) to something more yahoo/msn/

    1. fredwilson

      I know scottBut it allowed me to give out over 250 donors choose gift cards yesterday and I feel great about thatOf course, I could have done that without Fedex taking over this blogBut sometimes life gives you lemons and you can turn them into lemonadeI like doing that

  29. ktroia

    What’s the point (business value) to F/X taking over the site? Is it just so ppl talk about it? So, if there’s 44 of us with comments, do they consider that success? This doesn’t inspire me to … oh, wait I just remembered I have a picture frame in the back of my closet I really need to ship to my mom.Thank heaven I saw this takeover. I would have completely forgotten and she never would have received that picture frame that absolutely positively had to be there overnight (or 2 day or 3 day)…(I know, I know – it’s a branding ad. Just seems a bit pointless to me)

    1. fredwilson

      This comment cracked me up, particularly the bit about the picture frame

      1. ktroia

        Glad I made you laugh, Fred. I actually don’t think this concept is bad – but I think there are a few dots that need to be better connected. What does F/X have in common with you or with your charity? Quite honestly, I would expect something a bit more clever. It’s early, so I’m not coming up with any miraculous idea but it’s something along the lines of you all sharing the same interest in the charity; or them providing you all your overnight mail services; or perhaps it’s copy services for a year for the first person that names the most recent F/X location.Just some thoughts.

  30. Joe

    disqus comment testing

  31. lindsaycampbell

    This is awesome, really awesome, Fred. And you’re so right about big companies. Celebrate the small victories, of which this is definitely one.

    1. fredwilson

      Hi LindsayIt’s nice to hear from you

  32. obscurelyfamous

    This has nothing to do with the article. Just saying hi with the crew at Wired.

    1. fredwilson

      Hi back

  33. Geoff

    absolutely hate the full screen subliminal >FedEx flash as the pages turn.Fred Ex what a cool idea – I remember getting real angry once with them in the UK and riinging their head office asking to speak to Fred – unbelievably he answered the phone and was very sympathetic with the problems they were having in the UK.

  34. Dave Chase

    A bit off topic but coincidentally just got back from Memphis yesterday where I spoke at a conference by The Memphis News and was on a panel with the lead on Social Media for FedEx. Great guy and the main point of this comment is if you ever get to Memphis, try to finagle your way into a “hub tour” (it helps to know an employee and have some advance notice). FedEx does tours at 11pm & 1am which is the busiest time of day for them at their Memphis hub.I was struck by the fact that their hub is a rough physical world equivalent of the Internet in terms of routing pack ets/ages all over the world. During this “normal” day, it moved well over a million packages from that one hub (their largest). While I was there, planes were landing about every 90 seconds. I believe they told me that there’s 300 miles of conveyor belts and 150-200 planes landing and taking off per night.

    1. fredwilson

      What an awesome display that must be