This UPS Ad Has it Backwards


Time to pick on UPS again (see the “UPS” link at the bottom of the post)… Has anyone else seen the UPS “whiteboard” ad (the ones with the annoying long-haired business-casual corporate hippie guy) that's running during almost every NCAA basketball commercial break?

The ad talks about globalizing your business and it shows boxes flowing on a conveyor from a factory in the east coast to rest of the U.S. Kind of a quaint old “we used to build stuff here” supply chain. Once the business is enabled by UPS, supposedly, boxes are now flowing from that factory to the entire world…. including TO CHINA.

Since the UPS website is maddening to navigate, I'll save you the virtual waste of motion, embedding the stupid ad below (kicking myself for giving them free publicity):

Really? That's the most accurate supply chain they could have portrayed? Our trade imbalance with China, in the month of January 2008 alone, was $20 Billion dollars. Don't most executives watching basketball want to send tons of boxes the opposite direction, from China's cheap labor to the U.S. and global markets? I'm not encouraging that myself, but I would have expected the UPS globalization ad to be reasonably accurate for this decade, that's all.

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Mark Graban
Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker, and podcaster with experience in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. Mark's new book is The Mistakes That Make Us: Cultivating a Culture of Learning and Innovation. He is also the author of Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More, the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, and the anthology Practicing Lean. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.


  1. The ad isn’t right for this decade, maybe, but it is possible to sell to China in a few years. Currency changes alone have swung the balance more than 8% in the last year. Vietnam is supposedly the new cheap labor. The dollar drop is killing our usual mode of operation, but it opens up a whole new list of customers if you are watching.

  2. Can you imagine the effects on UPS’s public image if they did show the packages coming to the US? I think most executives watching the NCAA Tourney new very well that they can go the other way just as easily. By having the US as a central point, they appear to be helping the problem of imbalanced trade, while simultaneously planting their seed into the mind of the exec that wants to import. There is absolutely no truth in advertising, just spin.

  3. There are things that are shipped from the US to China every single day. Boatloads of stuff. Just because they ship more here than we ship there doesn’t make UPS stupid or wrong.

  4. Good point, anonymous, probably not a “mistake.” Why rile up the basketball-watching masses about their jobs being shipped overseas? Why run their noses in it, eh?


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