By Published on .

American Express Co. last week gave Young & Rubicam, New York, a payoff for the agency's avid behind-the-scenes pursuit of AmEx business.

It wasn't, however, the coveted AmEx charge card line or brand account, estimated at $250 million to $300 million, still at longtime agency Ogilvy & Mather.

Y&R instead won the under-$5 million new TV and print account for AmEx's financial services business, including a start-up venture called American Express Financial Services Direct that could yield larger billings down the line for Y&R.

"We never did national advertising for financial services, and we didn't consider it an account," said an AmEx spokeswoman. She said AmEx wanted to assign the financial services business to a different agency to "integrate and streamline" those efforts, heavily dependent upon direct marketing.


Y&R is likely to continue stalking AmEx's general account. Its Wunderman Cato Johnson direct marketing unit has handled various projects for AmEx in recent years, and last summer Y&R hired former O&M creative Gordon Bowen, architect of AmEx's award-winning "Portraits" campaign.

Industry observers say AmEx's current green-card advertising lacks strategic direction, and a review wouldn't be surprising.

"No one knows quite what the charge card is trying to be. There's no snob appeal left, and even though the Jerry Seinfeld ads are funny, one is left wondering why the card is worth having," said Peter Lucas, an associate editor of Credit Card Management.

American Express Financial Advisors-formerly the investment company IDS, purchased by AmEx in 1983-offers a full range of investment products and counseling through planners.

Financial Services Direct is a new service aiming to let consumers make their own investment decisions through a variety of direct channels.

Most Popular
In this article: