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Tuesday, February 17, 2021

FedEx has an undeniable case of the basketball jones. Consider:

This week, the package-delivery giant attempted to graft its corporate colors (orange and purple) onto the men’s hoops uniforms of the University of Memphis Tigers. The NCAA declared this — amid the multifarious advertising and marketing imagery also on display in the arena during “FedEx Appreciation Night” — to be in violation of the church-state divide, and so squashed it.

I wonder how many people recognize that this is but the latest try by FedEx to buy its way onto the jerseys and shorts of big-time basketball. In fact, the last high-profile attempt was when the National Basketball Association arrived in FedEx’s corporate hometown of Memphis in 2001. The then-Vancouver Grizzlies got a $100 million package offer from the company that led to naming rights for the eventually-built FedEx Forum, and would have also included a complete makeover for the franchise: The new orange/purple uniforms, and a name change to “Memphis Express”.

The arena portion of the deal went down fine, but the NBA killed off the team corp-branding. Like the college guys today, the pro-hoopsters weren’t (and probably still aren’t, almost ten years later) ready to sacrifice the essence of their franchises to the marketing gods — yet.

Regardless, this points to a pattern for FedEx. The C-level braintrust obviously really wants to muscle its way onto the hardwood, and identifies big-league sports in general as a desirable marketing channel. If any corporate entity succeeds in buying a franchise identity among the major pro/college sports, FedEx seems to have the inside track.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 02/17/2009 09:20 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Basketball, SportsBiz
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