American Express Promo, Case study BUILDING BRAND WITH BIG IDEAS by High Road Communications

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Industry Credit Cards
Media Promo & PR, Case study
Market Canada
Agency High Road Communications
Account Supervisor Aly Robb
Released November 2011

Credits & Description

Category: Best Integrated Campaign Led by PR
Product/Service: CREDIT CARD
Senior Manager/Public Affairs/Communications: Lauren Dineen-Duarte (American Express Canada)
Manager/Public Affairs/Communications: Jolene Sonshine (American Express Canada)
Vice-President/Creative And Editorial: Kristy Pryma (High Road Communications)
Senior Consultant: Stacie Bumbacco (High Road Communications)
Senior Consultant: Danna Barak (High Road Communications)
Account Supervisor: Aly Robb (High Road Communications)
Vice-President/Advertising And Communications: David Barnes (American Express Canada)
Communications Coorindator: Tina Princiotto (American Express Canada)
Communications Coordinator: Amanda Betti (American Express Canada)
Assistant Marketing Manager: Chris Vadori (American Express Canada)
Senior Manager/Advertising And Partnerships: Tina Santoro (American Express Canada)
Communications: Ana Medeiros (American Express Canada)
Management Supervisor: Michael Hoffman (Oglivy One)
Media Director: Kelly Shannon (Mindshare)
Managing Partner: Lynette Whiley (Mindshare)
Managing Director: Armin Huska (Neo@ogilvy)
Media Manager: Vivian Salumbre (Neo@ogilvy)
Group Account Director: Keith Baguley (Endeavour Marketing)
Media placement: Mentorship Partnership - - 2 August 2011
Media placement: Facebook Campaign Launch - Facebook - 2 August 2011
Media placement: Traditional Campaign Launch - Canada Newswire - 2 August 2011
Media placement: Blogger Sponsorship - - 2 August 2011
Media placement: 10 YouTube Videos - - 2 August 2011
Media placement: Mentorship Survey - - 2 August 2011
Media placement: TV Advertisement - CTV - 2 August 2011
Media placement: Media Relations - Winners - - 4 October 2011
Media placement: Experiential Showcase - - 8 November 2011

Summary of the Campaign
A 360-degree, multi-market engagement campaign encouraging Canadians to submit their big ideas for a chance to turn them into reality The Room For Thought program sought to strengthen American Express Canada’s position as the go-to brand for exceptional service and experiences, an extension of the company’s current overall marketing strategy. Over 5 months, Room For Thought saw 3 finalists embark on a journey toward realising their potential by giving the tools, mentorship and financial support needed to bring these inspirational concepts to life.

Focusing on the fields of community, music and travel/adventure, the finalists were each given $10,000 and paired up with a high-profile Canadian mentor to get their ideas off the ground. Blending inspirational digital content, tried-and-true media relations, online advocacy, TV advertising, and a visually stunning experiential showcase, this truly integrated PR campaign translated into substantial community engagement both on-line and off. Placing Facebook at the heart of the campaign positioned the American Express Canada page as the hub for all consumer-focused social activity, as our targeted, next generation of potential cardmembers are all very online active.

Since it was average Canadians who would breathe life into this campaign, Amex partnered with us, an integrated PR agency, to bring this program to life, even though its elements are more traditionally associated with the work done by marketing or advertising agencies.

The campaign surpassed the high benchmarks we set for ourselves, generating 905 pieces of traditional and social coverage that resulted in more than 99m impressions.

The Situation
American Express is a card traditionally associated with affluent Canadians and business clientele, who value travel and membership rewards. But increasingly, Amex is moving into the ‘everyday spend’ market by encouraging the use of its card for daily purchases and seeking out mainstream retail partners. For the past few years, American Express Canada’s marketing strategy has focused on positioning the company as the service brand to actively help Canadians ‘realize their potential’ through amazing events and experiences. In presenting Room For Thought, we sought to drive interaction with potential and current card members through relevant, engaging content that kept key branding messages top-of-mind.

The Goal
In launching Room For Thought, American Express Canada wanted to grow its digital traffic before taking those relationships offline. Key program indicators included:

• Driving traffic to the American Express Canada Facebook page, including 75,000 visits;
• Securing 9,000 new Facebook ‘likes’;
• Minimum of 100 ‘big idea’ submissions;
• Minimum of 750 votes;
• Securing 6,500 views of mentor-focused videos.

Building up this digital community created a communication portal where Amex can share its service philosophy with a broader, digitally savvy audience. Ultimately, Room For Thought would generate word-of-mouth excitement to position American Express as the go-to service brand.

The Strategy

Undertaking an integrated, 5-month campaign is no small feat; sustaining interest in the concept proved challenging. To ensure that the Amex message remained the focus, the following strategy was implemented:

• High-profile mentors: Partnering with well-known Canadian leaders in community, music and travel/adventure fields, we ensured a strong news hook to secure extensive broadcast, print and online coverage. Our mentors were: Craig and Marc Kielberger, Emily Haines, and Les Stroud.
• Media partnership: Working with Bell Media, High Road produced a 30-second TV commercial to promote submissions and drive awareness.
• Sponsored bloggers: To sustain online engagement, 9 influencers were sponsored to ensure consistent coverage, drive submissions and push traffic to final events.
• Video production: Series of online videos featured fresh and engaging content, such as the mentors offering advice on how everyday Canadians can realize their own potential. The videos helped attract entrants, votes and consumer engagement.

Room For Thought was rolled out in 4 phases: submission, voting, mentorship and experiential.

• Submission (Aug. 2011): To kick off, Canadians were challenged to submit online videos and descriptions of big ideas in the fields of community, travel/adventure and music.
• Voting/Selection (Sept. 2011): Leveraging Facebook, the final nine ideas (three for each category) were shared with the public, who voted for their favourite. More than 3,100 votes poured in to choose the winners. (Winning ideas outlined in the appendix.)
• Mentorship (Oct. 2011): Amex paired the winners up with the program’s celebrity mentors, who offered first-hand advice, an impressive contact list and some memorable moments along the way.
• Experiential Showcase (Nov. 2011): Taking place at the Four Season’s Centre for the Performing Arts in Toronto, we presented a visually stunning showcase, a ‘room’ based on each winning idea that was open to the public and media over a 3-day period.

Documented Results
The Room for Thought program surpassed the highest benchmarks the team set for itself, generating 905 pieces of traditional and social coverage that resulted in more than 99m impressions.

• Traffic to American Express Canada’s Facebook page reached 152,858 (204% of target);
• Facebook Friends grew by 47% (46,110);
• Net new Facebook Likes topped 14,813 (165% of target);
• A whopping 804 ‘big ideas’ were submitted (8x target goal);
• Nearly 3,200 votes were cast (4 times the target goal);
• True engagement both online and off;
• Video views: 10,415 (160% of target).