American Express realizes potential of print

A new consumer-focused campaign with the tagline 'Realize the potential' features some unusual print executions, and also encompasses TV, OOH and a heavy digital buy.

American Express is making big media purchases for a new brand campaign launching next Monday that leans heavily on digital, and includes OOH, TV and some unconventional print executions.

Boasting a new tagline, ‘Realize the potential,’ the campaign developed by Ogilvy Worldwide with support from Neo@Ogilvy in Canada, is a shift from the previous strategy of using celebrities in ads. It is also a way for American Express to get ahead of the curve as the credit card industry starts to come out of the recession, says David Barnes, VP of communications, advertising and sponsorship at American Express Canada. ‘We are seeing this as a significant investment in our brand and in our competitive position in key markets like Canada,’ Barnes tells MiC. Media buying was handled by Toronto’s Mindshare.

Some of the print ads appearing in Toronto’s three major dailies – the Toronto Star, National Post and Globe and Mail, feature unusual placements, he says. For instance, the creative might be in the shape of the letter L, and an upcoming buy will run in an N shape, explains Barnes. ‘So essentially you take a one-third page ad, you get the impact of a full page because it pops out at you so much, particularly when you do that in consecutive pages,’ he says. Other print buys include magazines like Toronto Life, Financial Post, and Report on Business.

Digital advertising will target consumers where they’re likely to make purchases or use AmEx rewards programs like and Digital buys weigh in at about 25% of the total spend, says Barnes. ‘In some respects you could say it’s at the heart of the campaign,’ he says. Ads will drive consumers to a microsite, which will launch on Oct. 12.

A 45-second animated TV ad will also appear on mainstream channels during news and sports programs, and a subway station takeover will launch in Toronto in November. The campaign’s bright colours and animation are aimed at high-income, high-spend professionals who are consumers of culture and entertainment, says Barnes. ‘I wouldn’t say we’re moving down market, but for sure we wanted to appear a little bit broader, and [appear to have a] more youthful attitude.’