Marketing Challenge: A Million-Dollar Branding Disaster

Ron Billingsley stared in disbelief at the ad in Delivery&Distribution. Billingsley, SVP of marketing for Freight Service Global, spent the past six months immersed in refreshing the FSG brand. He and his team worked tirelessly to conduct market and customer research, develop new branding, create print and digital ads, build out a multichannel launch campaign, and overhaul the company’s website and social presence. All of it was built around the company’s new tagline: “We’re so devoted to customers that service is in our name.”

All of the digital assets would be launching in a week. Direct mailers—including a special “We Care” package for high-value customers—and print ads were scheduled to follow to reinforce the new messaging. The marketing team arranged a launch event for the sales team; part training, part revelry. And select reporters and analysts were briefed under a non-disclosure agreement.

But right now Billingsley’s head was spinning. On the desk in front of him was the new issue of Delivery&Distribution, the industry’s leading publication. Opposite the table of contents was an ad for ShipNow Services International, FSG’s main competitor. Its tagline: “We’re so devoted to customers that service is in our name.”

Chris Stoltz, a marketing assistant, hadn’t done the requested due diligence on the tagline to trademark it or ensure it wasn’t in use elsewhere. Who was responsible didn’t matter at that moment; all Billingsley cared about was what he should do.

What would you do?

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