AmEx Hires McGarryBowen to Help Show That It's More Than Consumer Credit Cards

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An American Express Blue commercial by Ogilvy & Mather starring Tina Fey.
An American Express Blue commercial by Ogilvy & Mather starring Tina Fey. Credit:

American Express has tapped McGarryBowen to handle creative and strategy around its new global brand platform aimed at showing that the financial services company offers more than just consumer credit cards.

McGarryBowen was brought on earlier this year without a review, said Leah Gerstner, VP of public affairs at American Express. Longtime creative partner Ogilvy will remain on Amex's roster and continue working with the company in the U.S. and international markets, she said, adding that the brand works with a number of agencies. In November, DigitasLBI created the Amex spot promoting its Small Business Saturday effort, which starred Idina Menzel and Kristen Bell.

The creative work, expected to roll out early next year, will represent all facets of Amex's business, including consumer, merchant and commercial products and services, said Gerstner.

"We have a diverse business," said Gerstner. "You may think about us as just credit cards for consumers, but we actually have a robust commercial business as well globally and merchant partners, who are the ones who accept cards when you go to pay for something."

The messaging around Amex's new global brand platform will emphasize that diversity, she said. The creative work is in progress, so specific details could not yet be shared.

"We've been growing our commercial, consumer and merchant businesses around the world and reorganized the way we run the business to improve coordination across these parts of our business," said Gerstner.

Representatives at McGarryBowen directed calls about the new relationship to American Express.

AmEx is also pouring more dollars -- and celebrity -- into its marketing mix. The financial brand spent $304.4 million on measured media in the U.S. last year, a 9% rise over 2015, according to Kantar Media. After rolling out a series of spots for its Blue Cash Everyday card with Tina Fey in recent years, the company is now working with actress Alicia Vikander and Pharrell Williams for its Platinum card. Vikander is voicing digital spots for the product while Williams serves as creative director for the card.

Contributing: Adrianne Pasquarelli

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