FEDEX and the war on possibility

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I’m at a FedEx Kinkos in Seattle, Washington. They have these little cubicles from which one can work. I’m typically the only person weird enough to actually come and utilize said cubicles – I guess everyone else has a home office or prefers the cacophony of the ubiquitous Seattle Coffee Shop.  Nonetheless, here I sit

It’s obviously a fairly sterile place (printing, copying and shipping services don’t typically invite a stimulating level of user-experience design). Perhaps because if it was all flamboyant and artsy or cutting-edge, customers would be nervous their package would end up in Ottawa rather than say, Stockton, California.  

That being said, as I look around, I notice some promotional posters hanging in the windows with single-word headlines in large, bold fonts; “Passion,” “Creativity,” “Motivation,” etc. All with a smaller subhead underneath that reads “Printed Here.”

The images associated with each headline fall a little short of mirroring the sentiment – but maybe they were trying to avoid redundancy. I’m not being critical of FedEx Kinkos as an organization – I think they’re accurately setting expectations in terms of what a client could need; “Here’s your nicely printed, slightly overpriced promotional poster, we made it look the way you wanted.” I’m just pointing out the irony of the word “Creativity” hanging over my head in giant font in an environment consistent with what I imagine a Soviet-era office space would look like if it hadn’t all fallen apart in 1989. 

But the thing that’s really jumping out at me here is the “Pigs in Paradise” calendar on a rotating display rack set somewhat arbitrarily in the middle of the store. There are other calendars next to the pig one – “Songbirds of North America,” “Flower Spirits,” “Pooped (as in tired) Pups.” Standard fare for those with a passion for novelty calendars.

The pig one though…as you’ve likely surmised it consists of photos of pigs on sandy beaches/in tropical waters. Diversity is represented species-wise (they’re not all just pink farm pigs of the Babe variety), so I imagine a pig enthusiast is happy about that.  There are little quotes with each image “Happiness comes in waves,” “I need vitamin sea,” “Live in the sunshine, swim in the sea…” (which is quoted to Ralph Waldo Emerson)…so it’s cute, and it works.

But what’s really going on here? Who came up with this thing? You mean to tell me someone concepted this, copywrote it, art directed it, travelled with a photographer to this paradise for the shoot…?

Sidebar: The copy on the calendar jacket claims “…on a tiny cay in the Exumas…” (which is apparently in the Bahamas I’m too depressed to even Google it) “…is a place inhabited entirely by pigs.”  It goes on to say they can be “boorish,” but also “…paddle out to greet any guests arriving by sea.”

Come on.

I love the fact that this sort of stuff happens. I love that despite corporate’s attempts to identify FedEx Kinkos as a vehicle for “Passion,” “Creativity,” and “Motivation,” the pig calendar, seemingly accidentally placed in the middle of the store, just blows the lid off the whole thing. 

But truthfully, I really love (and hate) the fact that someone (besides me) said “Hey we make calendars, we need a new one what should we do next? Hey Ted, will you Google ‘cool pigs’ we haven’t done a pig one in awhile. Oh sweet the Bahamas and swimming pigs? Let’s go.” 

And thousands of these things were printed. And put on a truck. And some guy was like “No, no the Pigs In Paradise pallets ar over there Jack, that pallet has the “Cat Nap” calendars. Let’s go, Kinkos needs these pigs ones poste haste.”

I’m not really mad I didn’t come up with the calendar. I’m not actually jealous of the creators. And who knows, the whole thing was likely photoshopped. But I like to remind myself that anything is possible. Literally. Anything.  

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