Thursday, September 20, 2012

Is the UPS Store using "You Didn't Build That" as a theme in their new ad?

I noticed this UPS Store ad about a week ago, and it stuck in my mind for some reason, a reason which didn't really make sense at first. 

Watch the ad yourself, and see if you notice the same interesting thing that I did about the ad:

As the ad goes back and forth between these different small business owners think about what they are saying:
This is my business...This is my place. 
I'm the owner and sole proprietor...I'm the boss...I'm the CEO, the CFO, I do it all. 
I'm in charge of, promotions, customer service, new business, fulfillment. 
I only have one other employee, Chester [gestures to his dog]...
It's a romantic notion, take on the world, no one telling you what to do, but, uh, you are alone...
The ad then segues to their sales pitch, that these small business owners are actually not alone, because they have a local UPS Store providing very helpful services for them. The ad emphasizes that the UPS Store is conveniently located in their neighborhood ("Best thing? They're right down the street!" "Two blocks away!") and that each store is "locally owned and locally operated."

Sounds to me like UPS may be trying to tap into the energetic response to Obama's much-criticized "you didn't build that" comments.

At minimum, this ad is an exuberant celebration of the individual entrepreneurs across this nation who stake their personal finances on their ability to bake muffins, repair cars, design clothes, sell books, or any of the millions other types of small businesses that are the foundation of our economy. 

These business owners all express intense personal pride in owning their own businesses, clearly love being their own boss, and don't ask for any government assistance or handouts. In fact, the only assistance they need to be successful is a working relationship with another local small business - their neighborhood UPS Store.

Now, I can't say for certain that UPS is trying to directly respond to Obama's ridiculous statement dismissing the work of business owners, but at minimum, UPS is certainly celebrating the hard work, personal initiative, and local community focus of small businesses. There's not a mention of any role at all for government in this ad. 

The description that UPS put with the video for this ad continues this theme:

For small business owners, keeping it local is key. New research from The UPS Store found that more than 90 percent of small business owners would prefer to do business with other local business owners. 
The research also found that small business owners feel they don't get enough support or understanding when it comes to the challenges of running their businesses. They're not just the business owner, they're often the accountant, the bookkeeper, and maybe even the landscaper. And sometimes, they just need help. 
Enter The UPS Store. 
The UPS Store has a "do-whatever-it-takes" attitude and range of services tailored to the needs of small businesses. And, because its more than 4,300 locations are locally owned, each one is well-equipped to meet the needs of small businesses in its community. 
For more info, visit

Whether the UPS store will get any new support or backlash for what may not be an intentional political statement remains unclear. 

About a year ago, Ford ran an ad that also had a politically relevant message, in which a guy named "Chris" said that one of the reasons that he bought a Ford was that he liked that the company was standing on its own and not taking the bailouts like GM. Chris, who was a real guy who really had purchased a Ford, was overwhelmed at the response to the ad, and posted a short statement on YouTube, stating that he was not an actor, talking about how much he loved his F-150 truck, and was proud of the company and his participation in the ad:
Picking winners and losers by the government is clearly not the answer to our economy's struggles. Ford is an incredible company that has stood on their own. There's no doubt about it. They've had some incredible successes lately, and one of those successes is [being willing to] go directly to the people and say "This is what we believe, and what we think is good for America..."
What's important is that we, as Americans, have our voice heard, and that companies like Ford have the courage...when they do put something like this out on the air, and...when that message resonates with you, to support the companies, whether it's Ford or any other company who's standing up against this type of crony capitalism. 
The message really isn't about politics, it's about personal responsibility. We have an obligation, as an American citizen, to fend for ourselves. Our government promised us equal opportunity. Our government didn't promise us equal outcomes.

Sadly, it appears that the White House put some pressure on Ford, and the ad was pulled from the air and from YouTube. There are some low quality versions out there so you can still see it, but it's unfortunate that the company wasn't willing to stand up for their own ad.

Further reading:


  1. My friend is in this commercial. It was shot in May, well before that comment was made.

  2. What breed of dog is Chester?


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