Blue's prospering was a combination of product appeal -- a card with a "smart chip" for secure online shopping -- and a seamless multimedia campaign, says John D. Hayes, 45, exec VP-global advertising and brand management at American Express.
More than 2 million Blue cards were circulating by mid-April, more than half of them to users who didn't have another American Express card before, according to preliminary results of a study by Brittain Associates, an Atlanta market researcher. More importantly, the survey estimates users transferred $1.8 billion in balances from other credit cards.
"It was very intentional for us to make Blue look and feel very different," says Mr. Hayes, who led the ground-breaking effort to reach hip, Net-savvy, entrepreneurial consumers.
AmEx drew them in with a combination of technology and rock 'n' roll marketing.
The new card bowed with a saturation campaign, using media American Express had never tried before, such as wild postings and ads on health-club water bottles. Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide, New York, handled TV and print; Bronner.com, New York, ran an extensive online and outdoor campaign.
The centerpiece of the launch was "Central Park in Blue," a free rock concert in New York's Central Park, handled by Momentum, New York. The concert aired on TV, radio and the Internet.
Tickets for the concert were distributed at random by street teams, called "Blue Crews," which roamed the streets of New York for four days before the concert. The "Blue Crews" and the concert created even more publicity for the card, says Mr. Hayes.
Although spending, estimated in some circles at about $75 million, was not larger than other American Express product launches, the varied media and the concert created a saturation campaign that "felt like a larger single-minded experience that had some impact," he says.