Tag Archive: Cloud Power


It had to happen. Highly compensated marketing and advertising pros take one overused public relations buzzword and simply jam it together with another overused public relations buzzword. In one particular case, wouldn’t you expect a little bit more creativity from a $40 billion global company with 290,000 employees?

And yet FedEx has adopted the tag “Sustainable Solutions” to tell its green story, even with a tantalizing one-minute animated television spot. The tale with cute animal tails (see link below) depicts how FedEx trucks and planes are doing good for the planet, while burning fossil fuels to ship a package from point A to FedEx’s mega-package distribution center in Memphis, Tennessee before sending it on to point B, which actually may be closer to point A in the first place…if you follow me.

When I was living in Pleasanton, CA, located in the East Bay, I was selling two tickets via StubHub for the September 2009 Oregon vs. California football game in Eugene, OR. Not surprisingly a buyer from Berkeley wanted the tickets. StubHub provided me with the shipping label to fedex (corporate verb) the tickets from my Pleasanton house in Alameda County to the buyer’s Berkeley house 34 miles to the west in Alameda County.

eddickson

I was provided with a tracking number and followed the trail of my two Oregon seats for sale. Did they go from FedEx in Pleasanton over the 580 freeway and then to 880 to Berkeley, a trip that takes about 40 minutes in traffic? You guessed it. They were transported by FedEx in one of its sustainable trucks to a sustainable plane 2,061 miles across two-time zones to Memphis, offloaded at the Memphis Airport, processed, reloaded and then reshipped 2,061 miles in a sustainable plane back across the same two-time zones to the Bay Area and then driven in a sustainable truck to the final destination about 34 miles from my house.

How’s that for a sustainable solution? For a 34-mile trip, my package traveled 4,156 miles. Sorry, I still don’t get it.

In fairness to FedEx, my two tickets, placed and sealed in a recycled package, were transported by FedEx in one of its electric trucks to a low-emission plane 2,061 miles across two-time zones to Memphis, offloaded at the Memphis Airport, processed, reloaded and then reshipped 2,061 miles in a low-emission plane back across the same two-time zones to the Bay Area and then driven in a low-emission truck to the final destination about 34 miles from my house.

The FedEx “Sustainable Solutions” story is grounded in electric trucks, recycled materials and low-emission planes, which should help the “shipping giant” dodge a “greenwashing” charge. However, the question needs to be asked: Is it really green if all roads and flight plans lead to Memphis IT processing regardless of the destination of the package? Maybe there is a logical explanation, but FedEx will have a hard time explaining the environmental benefits of shipping my tickets first to Memphis in order to ship them back to Berkeley.

To top it off, FedEx with its new marketing tag may be infringing on or borrowing from the plethora of firms that call themselves (drum roll): “Sustainable Solutions.” There is Sustainable Solutions International as in building products http://www.sustainablesolutions.com/. And there is Sustainable Solutions Unlimited as in solar products http://solutions21st.com/. And yes, there is Sustainable Solutions Corporation that educates clients about sustainable solutions http://www.sustainablesolutionscorporation.com/. And not to be outdone, there is Sustainable Solutions LLC, a natural resource consulting company in the citadel of infinite wisdom, Washington, DC http://www.sustainablesolutionsllc.net/. Overall, there are almost 10 million Google search results for “Sustainable Solutions.”

Almost one year ago, Almost DailyBrett commented on how the public relations industry was pounding certain buzzwords, reducing them to cliché status as a result of their reflexive overuse and overhyping. The words (and phrases) include: Brand, Cloud, Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), Organic, Solutions, Sustainable, Thinking Out of the Box and Thought Leadership. And all of them can be incorporated, as Almost DailyBrett demonstrated, into one mega run-on sentence courtesy of the PR industry:

“Today we are thinking out of the box in leveraging a portfolio of organic, sustainable cloud computing solutions that enhance your company brand, while demonstrating thought leadership and exemplifying your dedication to corporate social responsibility.”

Almost DailyBrett paid special recognition to Microsoft for taking two buzz words and incorporating them into the same ad: “Most Comprehensive Solutions for the Cloud on Earth” or “Cloud Power.” This year, FedEx is dispensing with all the additional words and just jamming “Sustainable” and “Solutions” together.

fedex1

Maybe FedEx could get more bang for their green marketing buck by combining three overused PR buzzwords instead of just two. How about: “Organic Sustainable Solutions?” Surely, FedEx’s electric trucks, recycled materials and low-emission planes can be certified by some organization as “organic.” If “Sustainable Solutions” assists FedEx in telling its Corporate Social Responsibility story, then “Organic Sustainable Solutions” would be even better from a CSR standpoint and maybe even when it comes to Thought Leadership as well.

Now how can FedEx work the “Cloud” into the “Organic Sustainable Solutions Corporate Social Responsibility” (CSR) campaign? Certainly clouds are organic and Darwin knows they are sustainable.

The real issue is the word, “Sustainable.” The word is everywhere, and it seems to be used by everyone. Heck, I am taking “Sustainable Business” right now. And if “Sustainable” is used everywhere by everyone when does it start becoming noise? And if “Sustainable” becomes the equivalent of verbal elevator music, then does it eventually lose its currency with the general public? And if this currency is spent, then who is responsible? Are PR and marketing pros guilty of literally loving buzz words and phrases to death? That’s not sustainable.

http://www.commercialsihate.com/fedex-sustainable-solutions–video_topic11750.html

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2011/02/20/pounding-pr-buzz-words-to-death/

Sixty-eight years ago Adolf Hitler and his propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels boasted about “Fortress Europa” and the “Atlantic Wall,” a series of supposedly impregnable defenses against the coming Allied invasion of France.

The guy actually in charge of these defenses, legendary Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, privately described his Führer’s vision this way: “He’s in cloud-cuckoo land.” (Wolkenkuckucksheim)

Nordafrika, Generaloberst Erwin Rommel

Considering everyone in the technology space seems to be getting their collective knickers-in-a-twist (or bowels-in-an-uproar, if you wish) about cloud computing, one is tempted to label this period of time as Cloud Cuckoo Land 2.0.

Almost DailyBrett in February commented on how PR/marketing/social media practitioners have this irritating habit of falling in love with certain terms and phrases, such as “organic,” “sustainable,” “solutions” etc., and then pounding them to death, reducing them to cliché status. “Cloud computing” was listed as one of those overworked buzz phrases. Almost DailyBrett even attempted to take all of these buzz words and phrases and work them into one massive run-on sentence. https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2011/02/20/pounding-pr-buzz-words-to-death/

Since that time the quest for the cloud has actually accelerated, raising the obvious question as whether 15-yard penalties should be given for piling on. Google “cloud computing” and 120 million results come rushing at you, the ultimate contest in Search Engine Optimization (SEO). There are so many “clouds” out there that you would have to conclude that the weather is just downright overcast.

Just last week, Apple became the latest to be late in embracing the cloud. Steve Jobs led the charge, with the company’s “iCloud” announcement in San Francisco. The “technology” even comes with a nifty little tag line, “It just works,” which sent the 5,000 gear-heads in the audience into spontaneous simultaneous orgasm.

After working in technology for 15 years (10 with LSI Logic, two with the Semiconductor Industry Association and three with Edelman), let me assure you that no marketeer wants to be seen as falling behind the competition. It is far better to copy, borrow, pilfer, steal someone else’s idea and add your own particular bits, bytes, bells, whistles and spin than to explain why you were beaten.

What is particularly fascinating about cloud euphoria is that even the targets of this approach, namely Microsoft and Oracle, are appearing to embrace this cloudy concept (kicking and screaming?)…whether they want to or not.

New York Times columnist and author Thomas L. Friedman in his The World is Flat (2005) provided an excellent explanation of cloud computing or the downloading of software from the Internet (the cloud) via a web browser: “Software becomes something you rent, instead of something you own. Somebody else takes care of the upgrading and maintenance.”

This concept was a direct attack on the proprietary software of Microsoft, Oracle and SAP by Salesforce.com and some others. As Saleforce.com chief Marc Benioff said: “Microsoft wants you to buy more software. We want to see the end of software.” And if you visit Salesforce.com’s website there is the word “software,” sitting on its own little cloud with the diagonal line striking it out.

cloudcomputing

Microsoft certainly knows a trend when it sees one, and instead of countering Salesforce’s creativity, it extols the virtues of “cloud power” even including a tagline of completely overused buzz words and phrases imploring perspective customers to: “Find out more about our cloud-based platform solutions.” Let’s see: “Cloud,” “Platform” and (my favorite) “Solutions” in just four words.

Salesforce.com deserves credit for creativity. Whether Benioff et al are the actual creators of cloud computing or Software as a Service (SaaS) or not, they have assumed a first-mover position. As we used to say in my Sacramento days, “When in doubt; declare victory.” Benioff certainly has claimed victory.

Everyone else is taking turns spraying the fire hydrant. Consider IBM which has taken SaaS and devised its own acronyms, Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). Wonder where they came up with those ideas? Will someone follow with PiiS?

Supposedly, Silicon Valley is the cradle of innovation. Alas, when it comes to public relations, marketing and social media, the usual practice is not creativity and cleverness. Instead it’s follow the leader (and pretend that is not what you are doing), trying to make it appear that you have something different when in reality you are copying someone else’s idea and you are late as well. Many PR offensives — targeting editors, bloggers, analysts, reporters — have been based on these shaky premises.

Communications innovation, creativity, choreography and cleverness are certainly easier said than done, it helps to have a real killer app. In the case of the cloud, it does not appear that anyone has really tried. All they did is let a few create while the rest surrendered en masse. Not even Erwin Rommel can save them.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/plain/F8984900?thread=4935057

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erwin_Rommel

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cloud_computing

http://www.salesforce.com/cloudcomputing/

http://www.ibm.com/cloud-computing/us/en/

http://content.dell.com/us/en/enterprise/cloud-computing.aspx

http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/cloud/default.aspx?fbid=XN-13jrEZdF

http://www.oracle.com/us/products/applications/fusion/hcm/index.html

http://www.apple.com/icloud/

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