Friday, February 09, 2007

Brands: American Express

How do giant brands ride the waves of time, and how do they adapt to change? This month's issue of brand strategy features an interesting case study of American Express.

In the 1980's the American Express brand was about 'status and exclusivity'. Having money was the expression that someone was successful and prestigious. In the 1980's the business strategy was also to keep membership relatively exclusive, with high fees to guarantee good margins. In its communication everything was explicitly about exclusivity:

Since 2004 American Express runs the "My Life. My card campaign."
It highlights a shift in focus from exclusivity to 'specialness'. People who now carry an American Express card - do not necessarily have a great deal of money - but are sophisticated about the world and creative.

The campaign features celebrities including Robert De Niro, Tiger Woods, Martin Scorsese, and the ones below are featuring Andy Roddick and Kate Winslet.

American Express however did not limit itself to celebrities. The brand also engaged with the online community encouraging consumers to make their own 'My Life. My Card' video and post it on the campaign website.

The brand also engaged in the Product RED campaign already mentioned on this blog earlier. Hereby American Express aims to reach the so called 'latte activist': people who have an interest in social responsibility but still want to live life the full and have experiences themselves. Here is top model Gisele Bundchen being the spokesperson for American Express RED.

The 'My Life. My Card campaign', product RED: this is a nice case study of how a giant can learn to dance to the waves of time.

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