FedEx Forgoes Super Bowl for First Time in 12 Years

– Kenneth Hein and Todd Wasserman

FedEx announced today that it will not run a Super Bowl ad for the first time in 12 years. Director of advertising Steve Pacheco posted a statement on the company Web site citing “unprecedented economic waters” as the reason FedEx is opting not to buy a spot. The average ad is running about $3 million this year. “There is a time to justify such an ad spend and a time to step back,” he said. A FedEx rep confirmed Pacheco’s statement.

While most of the game’s inventory is sold out, observers have noted that NBC may have a tough time selling some of the remaining slots given the economy. Sports in general, once thought to be recession-proof, have been suffering soft sales of late.

Fed Ex has advertised in 18 Super Bowls since 1989. Pacheco credited its participation in the broadcast as allowing “FedEx to establish itself as a household name.” BBDO, New York, is FedEx’s agency.

The company spent $99 million on U.S. media for the first 10 months of the year (not including online spending) after $160 million in 2007, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus.