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EVENTS & PROMOTIONS;GETTING PERSONAL;AMEX PUSHES HARDER TO REACH CARDMEMBERS AT U.S. OPEN

By Published on .

American Express Co. wants to get more personal in its sports and entertainment sponsorships.

A longtime sponsor of golf, tennis and music events, AmEx is now mobilizing to enhance the special access, preferred tickets, free conveniences and "concierge-like" customer service that its cardholders get at those events.

AmEx will also expand its sponsorship of events in the near future to include more women's and emerging sports, said Andy Wing, VP-events and promotions, but he would not specify what is under consideration.

"We're targeting diverse consumers," he said, "and we want to reach out to them in a variety of ways, using events to demonstrate our cardmember services and actually bring our brand to life."

TARGET GROUPS

Mr. Wing would not rule out AmEx's possible sponsorship of one of the Olympic gold medal-winning women's teams, but he said any property the company backs must be "very relevant" to AmEx's goals of targeting young adults, women and senior citizens.

At this week's U.S. Open, AmEx added several new on-site marketing initiatives to its longtime sponsorship of the world's largest tennis tournament.

Among them was its first-ever $1 million contest for novices to return a pro's serve. The contest was promoted in USA Today, via ads from Ogilvy & Mather, New York, and was televised as part of tournament coverage. The contest drew "extensive" participation from young adults, Mr. Wing said.

At the tournament, AmEx also provided numerous on-site services for cardholders, including short-term package storage, maps and guidance, and a gift with any purchase of $100 worth of U.S. Open merchandise paid for with an American Express card.

Merchandise sales clerks competed for $100 gift checks from AmEx for the most on-site merchandise sold using AmEx cards.

AmEx also sponsored the women's doubles championships in the 12-day tournament.

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