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The Hero


ital birth defect, he walked with braces and crutches as a youth, until finally he gained the ability not only to walk on his own, but to play basketball and football. Eventually, he was healthy enough be a marine platoon leader in Vietnam. Federal Express was not an instant success, but Smith believed in the idea and stayed with it, investing in an ad campaign emphasizing the famous line “FedEx—when it absolutely, positively has to be there overnight.” Marketing campaigns first were directed at middle and senior management and later were expanded to appeal to secretaries and mailroom personnel. Initial ads highlighted actual experiments sending packages of sand by FedEx and its primary competitor—in which, of course, FedEx won. Later ads emphasized the fast-paced, competitive quality of modern business and featured Spleen—a fasttalking, intense manager who strung together hundreds of words per minute to illustrate the urgency of on-time package delivery. The message was that, in order to keep up with competitors today, you need FedEx. The organizational culture of FedEx reinforces its heroic identity. Although Smith was from an affluent background, he was impressed with the heroism of blue-collar folk in the Marines. In his business, he wanted to be fair to them. FedEx employees are expected to have a heroic commitment to quality results, so that those packages really are delivered intact and on time. In return, they are treated with respect and fairness—and they have a voice: Managers are evaluated by their employees as well as by their bosses. FedEx has been cementing its success and its iconic status with appearances in big box office movies. In Steve Martin’s Bullfinger, a filmmaker knows he is a success when the FedEx truck pulls up. Receiving the overnight package is portrayed as if he had been visited by the Grail. In Runaway Bride, Julia Roberts takes off from one of her weddings by hopping onto a FedEx truck. A character then quips words to this effect: “I don’t know where she’s going, but she’ll definitely be there by 10:30 tomorrow.” “Be a Hero”—Brands Unlike the pure archetypal Hero brands cited here, many brands today “dabble” in explicit or implicit calls to heroism. For example, (“The eMarket for IT Services”) runs a picture of

Profile for Lewis Lafontaine

Mack, Margaret - Hero and Outlaw Archetype  

Mack, Margaret - Hero and Outlaw Archetype