HAYES BRINGS BRANDING SKILLS TO AMEX AD POST

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With a nearly two-year search for a director of global advertising completed, American Express Co. must now search for a stronger worldwide image.

John Hayes, shifting from Madison Avenue to financial services, was appointed exec VP-global marketing at AmEx last week. Effective May 8, he will replace Aldo Papone, retired chairman of American Express Travel Related Services Co. Mr. Papone will continue to serve as an adviser on marketing issues.

An agency veteran who most recently was president of Interpublic Group of Cos.' Lowe & Partners/SMS, New York, Mr. Hayes was selected for his brand experience with accounts such as Coca-Cola Co.'s Diet Coke and Sprite, Aetna Life & Casualty and Citibank. Mr. Hayes worked on the Coca-Cola accounts when he was at Lowe but left in sudden management moves late last year.

Mr. Hayes canceled an Advertising Age interview at the last minute because he had just started his new position, he said through a spokeswoman. Other AmEx executives also declined to comment on the hiring of Mr. Hayes.

Some say that a recent shift to tapping outside personnel may suggest other changes at AmEx.

"It was an eye raiser, though it happens a lot these days," said Jon Friedman, co-author of "House of Cards," a 1992 corporate history of AmEx's last 20 years.

"American Express has its own culture," Mr. Friedman said. "It has tried historically to promote from within. Now it's saying that culture can be transferrable. They're obviously open to new ideas."

Needed changes may come in advertising, Mr. Friedman said. "One of his top priorities is to bolster [AmEx's] image abroad," he said. "Jerry Seinfeld is just not as well-known in Europe."

Martyn Straw, managing partner-director of strategic planning at N.W. Ayer & Partners, agreed about the need for a new plan, saying, "They just don't have the focus they used to as a brand."

"John's been looking for a challenge like this for years," said Mr. Straw, who worked on the $80 million AmEx account at Ogilvy & Mather (which still has the business) from 1982-90 and with Mr. Hayes from 1990-95 at Lowe. "The world has changed a lot since Optima was introduced; it's much more cut-throat. He's going to have to put even more brand value in those cards. I think he's a perfect fit. He understands what brands are."

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John D. Hayes

AGE: 40

EDUCATION: B.A., marketing communications, Seton Hall University, 1976

CAREER: President, Lowe & Partners/SMS, New York, 1991-94; president, Geer, DuBois, New York, 1990-91; exec VP-group director, Ammirati & Puris, New York, 1986-90; senior VP-management director, Saatchi & Saatchi Compton, New York; account supervisor, Scali & McCabe, New York, 1978-81; media supervisor, Foote, Cone & Belding, Los Angeles, 1976-78.

HOBBIES: bike riding

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