DHL Holdings (USA), Inc.

Author:Frank Caso
Pages:419-422
 
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1200 S. Pine Island Rd., Ste. 600

Plantation, Florida 33324

USA

Telephone: (954) 888-7000

Fax: (954) 888-7310

Web site: www.dhl-usa.com

COMPETITION BAD FOR THEM. GREAT FOR YOU. CAMPAIGN
OVERVIEW

In June 2004 Plantation, Florida-based DHL Holdings (USA), Inc., a subsidiary of DHL, which was headquartered in Belgium and was itself a subsidiary of the privately owned German postal service Deutsche Post World Net, ended a more-than-20-year absence from the U.S. television advertising market with a three-spot campaign that announced increased competition in the U.S. express and ground parcel market. The company, which had gone through a number of changes in the years just prior to the campaign, hired Ogilvy & Mather of New York to produce the campaign.

The campaign sported the tagline "Competition. Bad for them. Great for you." It consisted of television spots as well as print and online advertising and outdoor signage. In addition to the campaign proper, Ogilvy PR Worldwide conducted a public-relations campaign to assist in reintroducing the brand. The cost of the campaign was approximately $150 million.

The "Competition" campaign not only reintroduced DHL to United States customers but also introduced new colors for the company and made consumers aware of a fourth option (after UPS, FedEx, and the United States Postal Service) in the U.S. express shipping market. The campaign ended in February 2005, but DHL's two subsequent U.S. advertising campaigns followed up on what "Competition" had achieved and further cemented the company's presence in the U.S. market. B to B named it the best integrated campaign of 2004.

HISTORICAL CONTEXT

Founded in 1969 by Adrian Dalsey, Larry Hillblom, and Robert Lynn (whose surname initials gave the company its name), DHL was originally an express-courier service that carried documents such as bills of lading between San Francisco and Honolulu. During the next two decades DHL focused on international express delivery. In the 1970s DHL first initiated service to Pacific Rim countries (except China) and followed this up with service to Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, and Africa. In the 1980s the company began air-express service to Eastern Europe and the People's Republic of China. A television ad campaign of the early 1980s was memorable for its visuals of flying company vans. During this period DHL was content to relinquish the U.S. express market to rivals United Parcel Service (UPS) and Federal Express (now FedEx). That attitude changed in the early years of the twenty-first century.

The new approach toward the U.S. express-shipping market came with a new owner. In 2002 the German company Deutsche Post World Net completed its

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HISTORICAL CONTEXT © Thierry Roge/Reuters/Corbis. acquisition of DHL (the process had begun in 1998). The following year DHL, in an effort to expand its ground-delivery capabilities, made a $1.1 billion offer to buy the ground-delivery service of Seattle-based Airborne Express. Airborne, initially an air-delivery company, had only recently begun its ground-package service in 2001. The deal was held up for five months while the U.S. Department of Transportation examined it closely. The department's two concerns were reduced competition and—because of the climate of heightened security following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001—foreign ownership. Ultimately the acquisition went through: the Airborne ground service was merged with DHL Americas, while Airborne's air operations became part of a new independent company called ABX Air, which was owned by Airborne stockholders. In this way the...

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