FedEx (NYSE:FDX) commercials have been a Super Bowl staple for a dozen consecutive years. Last year's ad -- in which a fleet of carrier pigeons was enlisted to transport business documents -- was a winner. However, you won't find the overnight-delivery giant during this season's NFL finale. FedEx will not be paying up for a 30-second spot in February's Super Bowl.

With FedEx scaling back on payroll and even on its 401(k) matching contributions, the company didn't feel it prudent to fork over as much as $3 million for an ad. FedEx lowered its guidance two weeks ago.

General Electric's (NYSE:GE) NBC will be fine. It claims to have sold 85% of its Super Bowl ad slots three months ago. The economy has deteriorated significantly since then, but that burden will be on next season's championship, if things haven't picked up by next fall.

Still, I wouldn't worry about the Super Bowl ad market's long-term prospects, either. Many companies simply face too much peer pressure pushing them to advertise during the Super Bowl. If Coca-Cola (NYSE:KO) buys in, PepsiCo (NYSE:PEP) has to throw its chips onto the table, too.

I can respect FedEx's decision, but I don't necessarily agree with it. A Super Bowl ad is more than just a vanity plate. The right ad can be a real firestarter. True, this applies mostly to smaller companies such as domain-name registration specialist GoDaddy.com, or last season's E*Trade (NASDAQ:ETFC) talking baby ads, both of which represented supersized gambles. But even for bigger players, the right commercial can be really valuable.

FedEx is paying plenty already for the naming rights to FedEx Field, where the Washington Redskins play. Publicly pulling out of this season's highly watched Super Bowl is more a publicity stunt than a fiscal move.

In that sense, perhaps FedEx is milking more out of its decision not to advertise this time.

Well played, FedEx. You always know how to deliver.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.