Did FedEx Pay For Product Placement in the Film Cast Away?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about movies and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the movie urban legends featured so far.

MOVIE URBAN LEGEND: FedEx paid to have their products appear in the film Cast Away.


In the Tom Hanks’ film, Cast Away, Hanks’ character works for the shipping company Federal Express (FedEx).

We see Hanks early in the film working with the company…

And when Hanks’ character (Chuck Nolton) is stranded on the deserted island, it happens after he is riding on a FedEx delivery plane.

As a result, he uses what FedEx packages that he can scavenge from the crash to help him survive on the island.

Later, when he returns to the “real” world, he is taken to a FedEx headquarters (here we see his former fiancee, who is quite emotional about his return, especially since she has since remarried and had a kid)…

We even meet the actual CEO of FedEx at this point.

In any event, most folks naturally assumed that FedEx had a product placement arrangement with the film.

But DID they?

As it turned out, though, that was not the case.

Director Robert Zemeckis explains:

There was absolutely no product placement. We weren’t paid by anybody to place products in the movie. I did that in the past, and it wasn’t worth the little bit of money that they give you, because then you end up with another creative partner, which you don’t need. However, it just seemed to me that the whole integrity of the movie would be compromised if this was some phony trans-global letter delivery service, with some Hollywood fake logo and all that. It wouldn’t seem like it would be real. So very simply, we asked Federal Express for their permission to use their logo, and they could’ve said no. And that was it.

In fact, when FedEx was asked about the film, their first instinct was to say no, because it DID revolve around one of their planes crashing, after all.

However, they realized the opportunity this would give them in name recognition, so they went along with it.

And Zemeckis is being slightly misleading – sure, FedEx didn’t pay them, but FedEx supplied lots of resources to the filmmakers (uniforms, trucks, boxes, etc.). Heck, as I mentioned, their CEO even appeared in the film! So while yeah, it wasn’t product placement in the traditional sense of the term, but it was still product placement.

The same could be said for the famous Wilson volleyball that became a major character in the film (“Wilson”).

Yeah, Wilson might not have paid for the inclusion of said volleyball (this is even more believable than the FedEx example, as how many famous volleyball makers have a name that turns into a person’s name like Wilson?), but it’s still product placement.

The legend is…

STATUS: Technically False

Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is bcronin@legendsrevealed.com.


4 Responses to “Did FedEx Pay For Product Placement in the Film Cast Away?”

  1. […] it from obscure to iconic. On the other hand, a deserted island seems to be the perfect setting for FedEx to make an impact on […]

  2. […] It didn’t involve any major expense on FedEx’s part either. It was more a matter of Zemeckis’ desire to avoid an unrealistic, “phony trans-global letter delivery service, with some Hollywood fake […]

  3. There was an actual FED EX water tower in the US that was painted to look like Wilson – the volleyball.This was in 2012 .Anybody out there know where this water tower was or still is?

  4. There was an actual FEDEX water tower in the US painted to look like Wilson the volleyball.I heard about it in 2012.anyone out there know where this water tower is/was?

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