Brand: American Express
Execution: TV (Academy Awards 2006)
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This 2:00 minute spot shows M. Night Shyamalan, the director of “The Sixth Sense” and “The Village” sitting in a restaurant. As he watches the patrons, strange and stranger things begin to happen. We can see his vision infiltrate the actions of the people around him. Then a waitress interrupts his thoughts and breaks the spell. The voiceover – in his voice says, “My life is about finding time to dream. That’s why my card is American Express.”
American Express has been willing to take chances to breakthrough (some successful, some unfortunate like Andy Roddick’s mojo). This spot represents a huge risk with its long length (four times the length of the average network television spot), expensive talent and limited branding.
This advertising blog believes that with this execution, the American Express ‘My life, my card’ campaign has finally broken through. The selling proposition is tricky and indirect. But the campaign has created a memorable visual style and linked the individuality of each subject to the essential unique difference of the Amex card – flexibility.
It was not clear that this breakthrough would occur with earlier executions. The Kate Winslett and Ellen DeGeneres spots were beautifully produced and involving. But the connection to American Express seemed a little less compelling. It is not the bulk or the production value of the M. Night Shyamalan execution that tips the campaign but rather the accumulated weight and uniqueness of the campaign.
The spot itself is dazzling. The production is so quiet as to be almost still, but vibrates with the inner energy of the characters at the tables surrounding Shyamalan. It is an authentic look into his imagination.
What Doesn’t Work
A single exposure to this commercial might do Mr. Shyamalan much more good than American Express, as was true for Ellen DeGeneres and Kate Winslett. This campaign will only be effective for the regular television viewer.
Branding Bottom Line
American Express meets the Twilight Zone. It works.